Steamboat skiers take home titles at Nordic Combined National Championships
PARK CITY, UTAH — Steamboat Springs is famously home to the majority of Olympic Nordic combined athletes. With that in mind, it comes as no surprise that Steamboat skiers did well at the Ski Jumping and Nordic Combined National Championships in Park City, Utah, on Saturday, July 27.
“We’ve had a really big year already, and seeing that momentum carry into the summer is a really big deal for a lot of these athletes, especially the junior up-and-comers,” Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club Nordic combined coach Karl Denney said. “They were really looking to ride off their winter success and build it even bigger into this coming winter. This is kind of our big benchmark to see where we’re at going into the next season, and it’s looking positive.”
Steamboat native and three-time Olympian Taylor Fletcher won the men’s Nordic Combined title, while SSWSC member Annika Malacinski won the women’s championship.
Tess Arnone, another SSWSC athlete, placed second in the women’s combined standings, while Steamboat’s Grant Andrews finished right behind Fletcher in the men’s competition.
“Annika Malacinski, she’s actually only been jumping for two years now, tops,” Denney said. “For her to come out on top, ahead of Tess, is a big deal for her. Both Tess and Annika showed some really strong performances.”
Gunnar Gilbertson, who took seventh in the men’s Nordic combined event, was particularly impressive to Denney, who worked closely with U.S. Nordic Combined Junior National Development Team members.
“On that team, Gunnar Gilbertson had a big step up this week,” Denney said. “He jumped really well not only for his personal par, but in the overall field as well. I’ve seen some big improvements on his jump, and he’s just consistently getting faster over the past two years.”
In the ski jumping national championships, Annika Belshaw and Decker Dean earned bronze in the women’s and men’s competitions, respectively.
Canden Wilkinson and Erik Belshaw placed ninth and 10th respectively in the men’s ski jumping, while Logan Sankey took fourth among the women.
For some of Denney’s development team members, medaling at the national championships puts them one step closer to the Olympic Games.
“One of the criteria to getting on the national team is to podium at both the national title events, so the 100-meter hill and one on the large hill for ski jumping, among other things,” Denney said. “Last year, that’s how Decker Dean got on the national team. … It’s definitely a stepping stone for a lot of these kids.”
Athletes also competed in the Springer Tournee, which allows athletes of all ages to compete on the various sized hills at Park City.
The event began 21 years ago and has grown to one of the largest ski jumping competitions, according to Denney.
“It creates this atmosphere of connecting the top-level, national-team athletes all the way down through the U10s just starting to jump,” Denney said.
Dean won the U20 male competition on the HS100 hill. For the U18 boys, Wilkinson won on the HS68 jump, while Annika Belshaw was the victor for the U18 girls.
Erik Belshaw took the title among the U16 boys on the HS68. Aspen Bennett-Manke was the highest placer among SSWSC girls in the U16 category, earning fifth.
For full results, see below files.
To reach Shelby Reardon, call 970-871-4253, email sreardon@SteamboatPilot.com or follow her on Twitter @ByShelbyReardon.
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