Fate of repairs on Howelsen Hill’s big jump to be decided at the next Steamboat Springs City Council meeting. | SteamboatToday.com

Fate of repairs on Howelsen Hill’s big jump to be decided at the next Steamboat Springs City Council meeting.

A recent inspection of the HS127 jump at Howelsen Hill has revealed safety concerns that will need to be addressed before jumpers are allowed on the jump this winter.
John F. Russell

— Construction crews will have to wait an additional 48 hours to see if they can begin the process of making emergency repairs at the top of Howelsen Hill’s largest jump.

“I’ve decided to take it to council,” Steamboat Springs City Manager Gary Suiter said Friday afternoon. “I’ve heard some council members have some concerns, and I feel like we need to have a discussion to talk about it.”

Suiter said the needed repairs on the HS127 are expected to be around $40,000, which would exceed his contingency budget. He said he wanted to discuss the situation with council members at Tuesday night’s meeting before moving forward with the project.

According to a visual structural assessment of the jump conducted by Steamboat Engineering & Architectural Design, the log columns of the HS127 jump do not raise any structural concerns at this time, but several other components, including the upper ramp surface, platform and decking, stairs, railings and some cross-bracing components, have reached the end of their service life and need to be replaced or repaired.

Suiter said the repairs would address life-threatening problems and will need to be addressed before the jump is re-opened this winter.

“This jump is very important to our athletes, especially our higher level athletes,” said Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club Nordic Director Todd Wilson. “It would have a huge impact on our programs this winter if we could not use this jump.”

Wilson said the idea is to take care of the most immediate repairs to the jump in the next few weeks with crews returning in the summer to complete the remaining, less immediate, repairs.

Wilson said the necessary repairs are confined to the starting platform at the very top of the jump hill where ski jumpers put on their skis and double check their equipment before sliding out onto a starting bar.

“I’ve been told that there are City Council members who have delayed these repairs in the face of a known contractual obligation to maintain the jump, and a known safety issue for our kids,” Winters Sports Club Executive Director Jim Boyne said.

Boyne fears the delays will increase the cost to repair the jumps and may make it impossible to get the repairs done in time for this winter

“We’ve got events and training scheduled on that jump this winter,” Boyne said. “That jump is important, not only to us and our programs, but to others … We have kids coming here from all over the county, and in January, we are scheduled to have an event on that jump.”

Boyne said he has been impressed with Suiter and his team and their approach to getting the repairs made as quickly as possible; however, he admits he is frustrated with the City Council delay.

The Winter Sports Club and the city of Steamboat Springs have been having regular meetings to address issues at Howelsen Hill for the past several months. Boyne said the issue of the ski jumps came up at one of those meetings when members of the city staff asked if there were any other things at Howelsen Hill that needed to be addressed.

Suiter said he is still hoping to get to work on the jump as soon as possible, and he believes obtaining council approval would only delay the process, which was slated to begin Monday, by 48 hours. He added that repairs will be more difficult and costly to complete once it snows.

To reach John F. Russell, call 970-871-4209, email jrussell@SteamboatToday.com or follow him on Twitter @Framp1966

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