A headwind at Sunset Lakes in Groveland, Florida, yielded impressive performances Sunday at the Backyard Invitational, where the sport's best women jumpers assembled to get an early start on the season. But the pivotal moment of the tournament didn't come until the last jump of the day, when Angeliki Andriopoulou shattered the competition, flying an astonishing 180 feet.
“I just felt strong today,” Andriopoulou said, smiling ear to ear as her friends and fans started gathering around her back at the starting dock. “It was a PB so I'm really excited about it.”
Not only did her jump earn her the number one spot on the podium, it may also have given her the site record for women's jump, according to tournament host Lelani Travers.
The rest of the competition was equally enthused, both about their performances on the water and the opportunity to compete so early in the season. “I think this is the earliest I've competed in 10 years,” said Natalie Hamrick, who ran 2 at 38 off in the Open Women's Slalom division. “It's just impressive when you have a ski school putting together a pro event with pretty good money, so I wanted to come out and support it.”
Even the women who didn't do as well as they would've liked, expressed high hopes for the coming season. “I really can't expect much this early in the season” said Regina Jaquess who jumped 143 feet. “I just wanted to see how this tournament would go, so I know what to go home and work on. Hopefully in five weeks, it will be a lot better.”
Also making waves and attracting the crowd's attention was Rhoni Barton-Bischoff, who just a year after severely injuring her knee, jumped 154 feet. “I'd say it's a 50 percent improvement over yesterday,” she said of her performance. “It's good for this early in the year though, and shoot, I'm just happy to be out here after a year of sitting on the shore.”
Barton-Bischoff just missed the podium, placing fourth behind Jakalyn Hunter, whose third-place jump of 165 feet was met by cheers from the crowd. June Fladborg rounded out the top three with a second-place jump of 168 feet.
Compete Women's Jump Results:
Andriopoulou, Angeliki 180 feet
Fladborg, June 168 feet
Hunter, Jakalyn 165 feet
Barton-Bischoff, Rhoni 154 feet
Jepsen, Maj 147 feet
Berdnikava, Natallia 146 feet
Jaquess, Regina 143 feet
Lammi, Jutta 138 feet
Todd, Joy 137 feet
Mathieu, Marion 135 feet
Lammi, Laura 135 feet
Laurentano, Alex 132 feet