Salt Lake City’s Josh Hanson wins Winter Carnival Gelande competition
Steamboat Springs — Is being strapped into Alpine-style skis atop one of Howelsen Hill’s biggest ski jumps intimidating?
“It’s scary as hell,” Salt Lake City’s Josh Hanson said.
But Hanson and the seven other Gelande jumpers who advanced to Sunday’s Winter Carnival Pro Alpine ski jumping finals believe it’s important to keep alive a fading sport.
Plus, what’s the Winter Carnival without a little Howelsen Hill action?
“Winter Carnival isn’t the same without a good ski jumping event, especially Gelande because we’ve been doing this for a lot of years, and this is the way it should be,” Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club coach Pat Arnone said.
There are only two Gelande jumping events left in the United States — one in Missoula, Montana, and the other at the tail end of the Steamboat Springs Winter Carnival.
There’s little doubt, though, which event draws the big pool of interested jumping candidates, and which one brings the best and the bravest.
“This hill is a big hill,” Arnone said. “It scares a lot of people. In Missoula, we’ll have 20 or 25 jumpers because it’s a tiny little hill. It’s not as intimidating.”
Hanson won the whole thing Sunday, throwing down the day’s best jumps in each of the four rounds. He got progressively longer, going from 99 meters in the opening jump to 108 meters by the end, flirting with Rolf Wilson’s Howelsen Hill record (Wilson, a mainstay at the annual event, was in Seattle on Sunday).
Marsh Gooding took second place with his 106.5-meter leap. Gooding also topped the day’s speed chart after being clocked at 106.99 kilometers per hour on a run. Arnone followed up in third place with 97.5-meter jumps on both his third and final runs.
Tim Magill was fourth (97 meters), Darin Gamba fifth (90.5 meters), Tyler Erickson sixth (88 meters), Rob Davis seventh (86 meters) and Andy Atha eighth (71 meters).
Arnone said they’ll continue to push forward to keep the sport alive and give it a sustainable name in the ski world, but it will definitely take some work.
“We’re kind of rebuilding the sport,” Arnone said. “We’ve had some issues trying to get an organizational body in place. It’s starting to come together, but it’s just taking some time.”
Wednesday nights at Howelsen Hill help, too, where the public — experienced or not — is welcome to come give Gelande a try.
And even the mildly experienced jumpers who will show up in Missoula and get talked into hitting the bigger hill in Steamboat get hooked. It’s all part of the keep-Gelande-alive plan.
“As soon as we get people to come here, they always come back because it’s so much fun,” Arnone said.
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Routt County will give the town of Hayden $35,000 to support construction on the Hayden Center, which has an overall price tag of $6.5 million to $7 million.