Alborn wins third national title

Posted: Thursday, March 28, 2002

ANCHORAGE (AP) -- Anchorage ski jumper Alan Alborn won his third national championship Wednesday and decided to not retire after all.

Alborn, 21, captured his third national title by winning the 90-meter competition on the first day of the U.S. Ski Jumping Championships in Steamboat Springs, Colo.

The two-time Olympian talked about retirement following a disappointing showing at last month's Olympics in Salt Lake City. But that all changed after Alborn broke his own U.S. distance mark by jumping 221.5 meters three days ago in Slovenia.

As America's greatest ski jumper, Alborn sees no reason to stop now. Not when he's this close to reaching the world record of 225 meters.

''I'm pretty close to the record, so I'm gonna stick around for another season and see how it goes,'' Alborn said in a telephone interview. ''Knowing I could have a really good season next year is inspiring.''

Alborn and runner-up Clint Jones of Steamboat Springs, Colo., were the only two of 85 jumpers Wednesday to surpass 90 meters on both attempts. Alborn jumped 91.5 and 94 meters for a total of 240.5 points, and Jones went 90.5 and 91.5 for 231 points.

Alborn credited his success Wednesday to a yes-I-can mind-set, which helped him beat the man Alborn considered the pre-event favorite, Bill DeMong of Vermontville, N.Y., who finished third.

''He's physically stronger than I am. On smaller hills that comes into play,'' Alborn said. ''I think my confidence overtook his strength.''

An improved attitude was a major reason Alborn decided to keep jumping.

Alborn, who was the first American to jump more than 200 meters, said he considered retirement because he didn't know if he could financially afford to keep competing in a winter sport that doesn't generate much income for American athletes.

Alborn's promise is his upside. Seldom do American jumpers stick around as long as Alborn, who says he hopes his body will mature and give him additional strength to help him fly farther.

''Another summer of training should make me quite competitive,'' Alborn said. ''The way things are going, it's kind of a silly time to quit.''

Alborn said next season won't be as pressure packed as this Olympic year, when he regularly stressed out in preparation for the Games.

''I think I put too much pressure to have my best performance ever at that certain time,'' Alborn said. ''There won't be nearly as much pressure next year. And that's good.''

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