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Johnny Lyons - Biography

Johnny Lyons has been ski jumping for most of his life. When he was 5 years old his dad brought him next door to the St. Paul Ski Club and sent him down the "Bunny Hill". 14 years later Johnny is a U.S. Ski Team member and a likely candidate for the 2010 Olympic Ski Jumping Team. During the past few seasons Johnny has established himself as one of the top ski jumpers in the country by qualifying for the five member Junior World Championship team two years running, winning a SuperTour national circut competition, and by consistently placing high in the national rankings.

The future looks bright for this talented young man. This summer Johnny trained and traveled with the new US coach from Germany named Jochen Danneberg. Jochen was a very accomplished ski jumper who has won an Olympic Silver Medal and has also won the Four Hills Tournament...twice. His last coaching position was with the Korean team, and with the Swiss national team before that. With the help of such a high level trainer Johnny stands at the brink of success, and is all too eager to take the leap.

I owe a great deal to the sport of ski jumping. The experience I’ve gained and the lessons I’ve learned are going to help me throughout my life. Ski trips were my first real taste of independence and gave me a chance to learn things on my own without the support of my parents. It was on these trips that I learned it was possible to conquer your fears and inhibitions with nothing more than sheer willpower. My grandfather used to talk to me about willpower. When I was five or six years old he taught me to use willpower to overcome being ticklish. It wasn’t until I started putting what he’d taught me into practice that I realized the full potential of what I learned from him as a young kid and that it could be applied to almost every aspect of my life. The term “mind over matter” has sort of become my mantra. My dad used say that ski jumping is all between your ears, and he was right.

The skills required to ski jump competitively can be used in anything one undertakes. Presence of mind in intense situations, focus, dedication and self-confidence are the attributes that self-help programs try to convey but I was lucky enough to be part of a sport that instilled many of these qualities from an early age. The main reason that I love this sport is because I get to do something that nature didn’t have in mind for the human body. Flying at ridiculous speeds for hundreds of feet with nothing but air and a pair of skis to support me beats any roller coaster out there. Ski Jumping pushes my limits and expands my horizons further every year and at this point I see no signs of that changing.

I want to give my deepest thanks to my family who have never failed to be there when I needed them and to Wally Wakefield who has been a huge supporter and a good friend. I’d also like to thank the St. Paul Ski Club whose junior program taught me the basics of the sport and the values required to get where I am today. Finally I’d like to thank the St. Paul Educational Foundation that makes it all possible.

-Johnny Lyons