A decade down, jumping a tradition | SteamboatToday.com

A decade down, jumping a tradition

Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club ski jumper Koby Vargas launches from the HS75 jump on Howelsen Hill while training last year in Steamboat Springs. The Winter Sports Club is set to again play host to summer jumping and Nordic combined competitions Sunday and Monday.
Joel Reichenberger

Jumpin' and Jammin' competition schedule


9 to 11 a.m. Ski jump training, Howelsen Hill


3 p.m. Ski jump and Nordic combined competition, Howelsen Hill


9:15 a.m. Nordic combined roller ski race, Lincoln Ave.

12:30 p.m. Jumpin' and Jammin' competition and community party, Howelsen Hill

— It’s as much of a Steamboat Springs summer tradition as tubing the Yampa and almost as much of a Fourth of July event as fireworks, and it takes center stage in Steamboat Springs this weekend.

The Jumpin’ and Jammin’ competition is a weekend’s worth of ski jumping and Nordic combined activities that make visitors wonder, “What’s that?” and locals answer, “Just Steamboat.”

That was the plan from the start, said Todd Wilson, Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club Nordic combined and ski jumping director.

He and others had long salivated for Steamboat to add plastic ski jumps, allowing for year-round training, and planned to use those jumps to help build, support and show off the sport already in the works, even as the facilities themselves were being completed.

Now, Steamboat Springs is in its 11th year of ski jumping Fourth of July festivities.

“Most towns have a rodeo or fireworks on the Fourth,” Wilson said. “Not many places have ski jumping on the Fourth. That was one thing we thought would be really cool and very unique, and it fits Ski Town USA so well.”

From a competition standpoint, this year’s event starts at 3 p.m. Sunday, with the first jumps off the HS45 ski jump (the smaller of the two green-carpeted jumps) at Howelsen Hill in downtown Steamboat Springs. Jumps from the older athletes — including U.S. Nordic combined Ski Team members and at least a couple of 2014 Winter Olympians — follow at 4 p.m.

Those jumps will be part of the Nordic combined element of the activities. They’ll be used to establish a start list for a roller ski race set to start at 9:15 a.m. Monday on Lincoln Avenue before the start of the Fourth of July parade.

Athletes will skate through either 1- or 3-kilometer races, and the first across the finish line will be the winners in Nordic combined.

Finally, those same athletes and others will be back to the jumping hills starting at 12:30 p.m. for another jumping competition.

That one will start with the full field of jumpers currently in town, many who still train here and plenty more visiting for weeklong training camps that find their finale in Monday’s event. The group of 48 jumpers will be cut to 32 after one round, then 16 and, finally, eight before a winner is crowned.

The goal will be to jump the farthest, though athletes will be divided into groups according to age and experience to even things up. The oldest, most-experienced athletes will jump from lower starting points, limiting their distance potential and acting to even out the competition.

Wilson said the event has grown since it came into existence in 2006. Now, as many as 5,000 people — a great many of those “what’s that?” visitors — crowd into the landing flats. More recent additions mean there will be beer tents and vendors waiting.

“It’s our biggest spectator event of the year,” Wilson said. “That was our hope, to get a lot of people in town to come check it out. Who wouldn’t want to see a skiing event on the Fourth of July?”

To reach Joel Reichenberger, call 970-871-4253, email jreichenberger@SteamboatToday.com or follow him on Twitter @JReich9

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