Nordic combined announcement adds more Steamboat Springs skiers to FIS Nordic Junior World Ski Championships roster
Steamboat Springs — The list of Steamboat Springs athletes headed to the FIS Nordic Junior World Ski Championships continued to grow Friday morning as Koby Vargas, Grant Andrews and Elijah Vargas became the most recent skiers named to the team.
“It was really big,” Koby Vargas said. “Just the opportunity to represent my country again, at this event, is a huge honor.”
Koby will be making his third trip to the FIS Nordic Junior World Ski Championships, when they open later this month at the Park City, Utah, Olympic venues. He will be joined by Andrews and his brother Elijah Vargas, who will both be making their first trips to the international junior championships.
“The first time I went it was really about the experience of my first international competition,” Koby said. “It was a good experience to have, but this in now my third Junior Worlds, and I want to start pushing toward having good results and proving that I belong at the top international level.”
But this time, things will be a little different. He will have the chance to ski just a few hours from where he grew up and compete alongside his brother.
“We didn’t really talk about it until it started to become obvious after the first qualifier,” Koby said. “After that, we talked a little bit about having the chance to go to this event together. When we realized that it was going to happen, we were both happy.”
But when the skiers push off the starting bar at the top of the ski jump hill, he said that brotherly love will most likely turn into sibling rivalry.
“It was fun that we qualified together, but I can’t have him beating me,” Koby said.
The two brothers will not be alone in Park City. Koby said he expects to see his family and friends in the crowd at the bottom of the hill, and Friday’s team additions bring the number of skiers with ties to Steamboat Springs to seven.
Nordic skier Wyatt Gebhardt was named to the team earlier this week along with special ski jumpers Decker Dean and Logan Sankey. Todd Wilson, the Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club Nordic director, said Annika Belshaw also met the qualifying criteria but is too young to compete at the events, which will take place Jan. 30 to Feb. 5 in Park City.
“I believe that this is the most athletes that we have ever put on a World Junior team — most of those kids are homegrown kids,” Wilson said. “We feel it is really a good testament to the great coaches over here.
“They say it takes a village, and we have so many partners,” Wilson continued. “We get help from the Steamboat Ski Area, the city of Steamboat Springs and the parents of our athletes. It’s a credit to everybody that chips in to make this so awesome, and it’s a real tribute to the whole village and to Ski Town USA.”
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Steamboat Springs part-time resident David Dennis is approaching the third-year mark from when his right leg was amputated below the knee.