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Ski jump getting a change

— It’s hard to miss the changes taking place on Howelsen Hill these days.

Nobody notices it more than Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club’s Executive Director Rick DeVos.

“It’s exciting to finally see heavy equipment up there moving dirt,” DeVos said. “Things are definitely starting to take shape, and everybody at the club is just thrilled.”

Each day, DeVos is greeted by the clanking of heavy equipment and the voices of workers undertaking the daunting process of reshaping the old K-60 jump into a newer K-68 hill that will transform ski jumping into a year-round activity.

“We are on schedule, and so far there haven’t been any problems with the project,” said Rick Fuller, vice president of TCD, the company in charge of the construction for the new jump.

He said his crews have been busy shaping the hillside and pouring the concrete that will form the foundation for the takeoff.

“It isn’t just another building in downtown,” Fuller said.

Fuller said workers operate heavy equipment on steep slopes and meet the specific guidelines of the designers.

Fuller expects his company to complete its part of the project before the snow begins to fly late this fall.

The company also will coordinate a volunteer effort to install the plastic surface on the landing hill. Todd Wilson, the Winter Sports Club’s Nordic director, will spearhead that effort to help save money.

He said the installation of the plastic is similar to putting a roof on a house. That portion of the project could begin this fall, but most of the people involved think that final step will take place early next spring.

“I don’t think we ever expected to be jumping this summer,” DeVos said. “Based on the timelines I’ve seen, I think that is planned for next spring.”

No matter if it’s the fall or the spring, Wilson said the installation of the plastic surface would not impact his program this summer. He said as long as the structure is complete enough to use during the winter, everything will be fine.

“It’s been a long process,” Wilson said. “If we are jumping on plastic by next summer, I’ll be happy with that.”

While things are on track to accomplish that goal, Wilson admits that rising construction costs will have an impact on the project.

“Instead of a Cadillac version, we are going to end up with a Chevy — but it’s a very nice Chevy,” Wilson said.

Wilson is hoping that the Colorado Ski Heritage Project will continue to bring in money that will complete the project and possibly foot the bill for a few of the items that have been put on the club’s “wish” list.

Linda Kakela, director of intergovernmental services for the city of Steamboat, said the project is trying to raise the final $40,000 for the construction. She also is hoping that fund-raising efforts will be able to exceed that goal, so a few items can be restored.

Among the final cuts were an overhead boom winch cat needed to groom the landing surface, an automatic track setter that would make the takeoffs more efficient, a winch at the top for moving snowmaking equipment and a cooling tower for the snowmaking system.

Wilson and his staff will have to work a little harder to maintain the jumps without these items, but they will not change the appearance of the jump.

Wilson also would like to add stairs along the in-run and out-run in the future so that judges and workers can move from place to place more easily.

“We are still working on ways to get these things,” Wilson said. “We’ve made a priority list, and we haven’t done anything that will prevent these items from being added at a later date.”

Wilson said the absence of these items hasn’t dampened the excitement surrounding the jump or what it will mean to the Winter Sports Club’s Nordic programs this winter and next summer.

Anyone interested in making donations to the Colorado Ski Heritage Project can contact Rick DeVos at the Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club’s main offices for more information. The number is 879-0695, ext. 103.

— To reach John F. Russell call 871-4209

or e-mail jrussell@steambaotsprings.com


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