Ski jumpers soar at Flaming Leaves festival

Beckett Ledger, originally of Lake Placid, flies off the 90K jump at the Olympic Jumping Complex outside of Lake Placid on Sunday during the Flaming Leaves Festival. (Enterprise photo -- Justin A. Levine)

LAKE PLACID — The top of the Olympic ski jumps were barely visible on Sunday morning, but that didn’t stop almost 20 jumpers from sailing through the sky to the thrill of the crowd at the Flaming Leaves Festival in Lake Placid.

Lake Placid native Beckett Ledger — who now lives and trains in Park City, Utah — said he was happy to be home and thrilled with his third-place spot on the podium at Olympic Jumping Complex.

“You definitely have some adrenaline when it’s the real deal and you’re ready to go, so that definitely helps – as long as you can hone in and focus, which is what I’ve been working on,” Ledger said. “I was definitely happy to do that today.

“I’ve been a little up and down in my jumping recently, so it’s good to have two solid jumps and be on the podium.”

Hunter Gibson took first with jumps of 98 and 99 meters, Evan Nichols was runner-up with distances of 96.5 and 90 meters, and Ledger took third overall with jumps of 93.5 and 84.5 meters.

From left, Evan Nichols (second place), Hunter Gibson (first place) and Beckett Ledger (third place), stand atop the podium after the jumping portion of the Flaming Leaves Festival wrapped up. (Enterprise photo -- Justin A. Levine)

Ledger moved out to Park City almost a year ago, and has since been to his home turf sporadically, including a stint doing carpentry work over the summer.

“I was kind of back and forth over the winter, and I’ve been out there all summer since April,” the 18-year-old said. “Training for us is 20 hours a week, every week. So it’s like a part-time job. So I haven’t really had time to work.

“But I’m in flight school out there, so that’s what I do with my free time. Hopefully someday I’ll be a commercial airline pilot or a personal pilot for some rich dude.”

Another area jumper, Lake Placid resident Tate Frantz, finished fourth with jumps of 88 and 82.5 meters.

Landon Lee (86, 80) was fifth. Henry Johnstone (86.5, 75) placed sixth, Logan Gundry (80, 66.5) was seventh, Stuart Gundry (70, 73.5) took eighth, Shane Kocher (70.5, 65) placed ninth and Carter Lee (64, 63) rounded out the top 10.

Sean Maloney (60.5, 65) was 11th, Bryce Kloc (57, 60.5) was 12th, August Schini (58, 59) placed 13th, Dennis Morgan (53, 58) was 14th, Cameron Summerton (49.5, 47.5) was 15th, Seth Gardner (52, 47) was 16th and Jack Lawrence (45.5, 46) capped the field.

The lone female in the competition, Faith Kocher had jumps of 44 and 46 meters.

After the jumping portion of the weekend ended, five athletes — including Ledger and Frantz — took part in a rollerski race.

Ledger finished first to make his second podium of the day with a time of 26 minutes, 47 seconds. Johnstone (27:18) placed second, while Nichols (28:39) placed third.

Frantz was fourth with a time of 33:42 and Morgan rounded out the rollerski race in 34:21.

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