Howelsen Hill set to host ski jumping world in final events of 2017 season
Steamboat Springs — Howelsen Hill will come to life this weekend as young jumpers from around the U.S. and Canada flock to Steamboat Springs’ historic ski jumps for the Western Regional Championships.
“Hopefully, this will be the biggest event of the season for us in terms of numbers, diversity and visiting teams,” said Todd Wilson, Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club Nordic director. “We plan on using all the hills at Howelsen, so hopefully, we will be hitting on all cylinders, in all age groups and on all hills making this our biggest event of the year.”
Wilson said teams started arriving in Steamboat Springs Tuesday, and the recent cold snap means conditions will be good by the time the ski jumpers and Nordic combined skiers begin open training Wednesday.
Training for the events will continue on Thursday as more skiers arrive. The first competitions are set to begin at 5:30 p.m. Friday on the smaller HS20, HS30 and HS45 hills.
On Saturday, the events will continue at 8 a.m. with jumping on the HS127, HS100 and HS75.
The championships will come to a close in the afternoon with the cross-country portion of the Nordic combined events taking place at the rodeo grounds. The U10, U12 and U14 athletes are set to begin racing at 3 p.m., and the older U16, U18/20 and senior skiers will begin racing at 3:45 p.m.
“When the Western Regional Championships were born, organizers wanted to create a big event at the end of the season for the younger athletes,” Wilson said. “The older athletes have lots of opportunities this time of the season, but we wanted our younger kids to have something to work toward and to look forward to competing at.”
While this weekend’s events may be focused on the younger athletes, Wilson said the older ones will be here as well, preparing for several big end-of-season events including the Canadian National Championships, which will take place at the end of March and the first week of April.
“It’s the end of the competitive, official part of the season for the younger kids,” Wilson said. “There is still a Skimeister event (March 18) and the Nordic Fest (March 25) that our kids are invited to, but these will be the last Nordic combined and jumping events of the season.”
Steamboat skiers shine at junior nationals
Decker Dean, Esther DelliQuadri and Annika Belshaw highlighted a strong showing by the Rocky Mountain Division at the 2017 Junior National Championships last weekend in Fox Grove, Illinois.
Steamboat had 10 of its 15 athletes competing last weekend.
“It was a great showing, especially considering a third of our team was not in attendance,” said Wilson.
Among the local skiers not competing were Koby Vargas, Logan Sankey and Grant Andrews, who all elected not to go. Bennett Gamber is injured with a broken collar bone, and Elijah Vargas decided to focus on school before traveling to Lillehammer, Norway, for a youth cup.
But despite missing some of the club’s biggest rising stars, Steamboat was well represented at the junior championships.
Dean earned first-place showings in the U20 male individual jumping competition and was second in the U20 male Nordic combined event. Belshaw topped the U16 individual jumping and was first in the U16 Nordic combined. DelliQuadri won the U20 female Nordic combined event.
Other top Steamboat finishes included Hanako Schrock, who placed third in the U16 jumping event, and Niklas Malacinski, who was third in the U16 male Nordic combined event.
Steamboat also did very well in the team events with the squad of Belshaw, Schrock and DelliQuadri winning the open female team jumping competition.
Dean and Canden Wilkinson were second in the U20 male Nordic combined event, and Gunnar Gilbertson and Woody Waugh of the Central Division were third in that same class.
Erik Belshaw and Malacinski placed second in the U16 male division, and Annika Belshaw and DelliQuadri were first in the U16 division.
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