Nordic combined skiers fly Saturday in Steamboat
The winter season jumped off Friday and Saturday for many local Nordic combined skiers with the annual Winter Start event at Howelsen Hill, and this year the event drew a pack of U.S. Nordic Combined Ski Team athletes back to Steamboat Springs ahead of the Continental Cup scheduled for later this month.
Among those skiers, jumping off the HS100 hill, Ben Loomis came out on top. He was in first place after the jumping, then maintained that position in a 5-kilometer cross-country ski race, eventually finishing that in 13 minutes, 7 seconds.
Teammate Stephen Schumann was on his heels to finish second, 8 seconds back. Steamboat Springs and U.S. team skier skier Grant Andrews was third and Adam Loomis fourth.
Tate Frantz won the Nordic combined competition off the HS75 hill. Steamboat’s Canden Wilkinson was second and his teammate Gunnar Gilbertson third with Erik Belshaw coming in fourth.
Annika Belshaw dominated the U18 women’s special jumping competition off the HS75 and the HS100. She won both.
Steamboat and U.S. team jumper Logan Sankey was second of the 100 and Cara Larson third. Steamboat’s Alexa Brabec was second off the HS75 and Park City’s Jillian Highfill third. Steamboat’s Tess Arnone was fifth.
On the boys side, Evan Nichols won the U18 men’s HS75 special jumping with Frantz second and Henry Johnstone third. Wilkinson was fourth and Gilbertson fifth.
Ben Loomis was the top special jumper off the HS100, ahead of Schumann, who was second, and Andrew Urlaub, third.
World Cup teams struggles in Norway
The United States didn’t have a strong weekend at the World Cup level.
An all-Steamboat squad, with Bryan Fletcher, Taylor Fletcher, Ben Berend and Jasper Good, competed on Saturday in a four-man relay and placed ninth. The foursome was 10th in the 12-team event after the ski jump. It fought its way past Poland and Russia, but couldn’t hold off Italy, initially 11th, and finished ninth.
In that event, Taylor Fletcher had the fastest time of the skiers in his leg, and Bryan Fletcher had the second fastest, but the team ended up with the eighth fastest time overall. It was 3 minutes, 25 seconds off Norway, which got a strong finish from Joergen Graabak to out-sprint Germany’s Fabian Riessle to win the day’s race.
France was third.
Sunday, poor jumps in the qualification round kept the team from advancing any athlete for the day’s individual World Cup competition.
Now it’s back to the United States for the crew as the World Cup skips a week. Many of the U.S. team members will return to Steamboat Springs to compete in the Continental Cup, which is scheduled to start three days of competition on Dec. 15.
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