A ‘Good’ start: Nordic combined season begins at Howelsen
STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — U.S. Nordic combined team member Jasper Good hadn’t been home since September. Before that, he hadn’t been in Steamboat Springs since last Christmas.
So of course, when he and teammate Grant Andrews returned for the first time in what felt like forever, they went to Back Door Grill.
“Grant had his birthday the other day, so we went to Back Door,” Good said. “I still think Back Door is one of my favorite burger places.”
Coming from a well-traveled athlete, that’s saying something.
A burger wasn’t why they were back home, though. The real reason the former Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club members were in town, was to compete in the Nordic Combined Winter Start at Howelsen Hill on Saturday, Dec. 7.
Good wasn’t particularly excited about his official flight but was happy it was better than his trial jump.
“It was OK. It’s fun to come back and compete at home even if it’s more of a smaller event,” Good said. “It’s fun to come see what the younger kids are up to and do a bit of a fun tune-up competition, because next week we have our first international competition at Park City (Utah).”
The 23-year-old said he needed to find something extra in his jump to get to the level he wants to be competing at this season.
“(I need) a little extra energy in the legs, which hopefully will come with some rest days and a little bit of leg technique,” he explained. “Ski jumping is so intricate, but it simplifies down quite a bit. It comes back to how you move with your hips and the direction you take over the landing hill.”
Andrews’ jump didn’t go so well. A tailwind, paired with a poor takeoff, resulted in him crashing after hitting the ramp at the 85-meter mark.
“If there is tailwind, it just amplifies what happens to your skis, especially if you’re too aggressive. It pushes them away,” Andrews said. “My skis kind of came away from me in the end, because I was being a little too aggressive. I just had a hard time landing and just tipped over.”
Andrews went about falling the right way, tucking his arms and rolling down the rest of the ramp into the outrun. He bounced right back up, collected his skis and gave the crowd a thumbs up.
He’ll still get the distance, but his score from the judges put him all the way at the back of the pack for the cross country portion of the event later that evening. Andrews wasn’t concerned, though.
“At this point, it’s the very beginning of the competition season,” he said. “Honestly, it’s like a practice run to get everything out of the system, and I guess it’s better to crash here than it is next week at Park City.”
For the younger jumpers, Saturday was more than a practice run or a benchmark. The Winter Start at Howelsen was a qualifier for the Youth Olympics and Junior Worlds.
Each club can take two male and two female athletes from each discipline — special jumping and Nordic combined — to the Youth Olympics. Since Tess Arnone and Alexa Brabec are the only female SSWSC Nordic combined athletes at the right age and level to compete in both, they are already qualified.
Still, Arnone had a high standard for herself Saturday.
She was not pleased with her first jump, but she came into the locker room with a smile after her second. Her skis hit the landing ramp after a 74.5-meter flight. Unfortunately, it’s the first jump that’ll count in the Nordic combined results and determine where she starts the cross country skiing 5K race.
“It’s just the start of the season. It does not dictate what is going to come for the rest of the season,” she said.
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