Fans get Olympic preview when Gold Cup hits Steamboat

John F. Russell

— The Olympics will be coming to Utah in February, but skiing fans in Steamboat Springs can get a taste of the international action right here at home in December.

The action will start when the top 45 nordic combined skiers come 16-18. It will be followed by the Gold Cup Dec. 19, which will attract the top 20 nordic combined skiers and the top 20 special jumpers in the United States.

“We are really lucky to get this USSA event,” Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club Nordic Director Todd Wilson said. “It will give Steamboat a lot of exposure right before the Olympics.”

This is just the second time these events have taken place and they offer the top athletes in the country one last opportunity to make it to the Olympic Games.

“It is going to be televised and it should get a lot of attention especially since the Olympic Games are here at home,” Wilson said.

The original plan was to have all of the Gold Cup events in the Salt Lake area. While most of the Gold Cup events will be held in Utah, for some reason the jumping and nordic combined events will be held in Steamboat.

“For some reason they feel that holding this event at the Olympic venue will be too close to the Games,” Wilson said. “So we get them here.”

The event will also be a chance for America’s top skiers to cash in on a big payday. The winner of the nordic combined event and the winner of the special jumping event will both pocket a check for $10,000.

Wilson said that both the special jumping and nordic combined events will be held in one day.

The nordic combined jumping event will take place first in the morning and will be followed by the special jumping event.

The second part of the nordic combined event, the cross-country, will take place in the afternoon.

Wilson said the nordic combined event will most likely be a sprint competition with a single jump to count and a shorter 7.5-kilometer cross-country event.

The special jumping event will be held on the K-114 (large hill) at Howelsen.

Park City will host the first qualifying event for the Gold Cup in November. Steamboat will host another qualifying event Dec. 1 and 2.

The top 20 qualifiers from both of those events will be invited to compete in the Gold Cup.

“It’s a chance for a long shot to come out of the woodwork,” Wilson said. “But they still have to qualify.”

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