Steamboat Springs adds youth to 2019 Nordic combined and ski jumping World Championships
STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — Steamboat Springs will continue the tradition of sending Nordic combined and ski jumping athletes to the World Championships in Seefeld, Austria, on Feb. 22.
Steamboat Springs sends ski jumper Logan Sankey, 20, to compete in the first-ever women’s World Championships in ski jumping.
“The sport is progressing, and there’s going to be so many opportunities for all of these girls coming up,” Sankey said. “Most of all, it’s just so much fun and such an amazing feeling and so many incredible experiences and opportunities that can be opened up by the world of ski jumping for young women.”
The World Championships were on Sankey’s radar but still come as a surprise. Sankey underwent hip surgery for a torn labrum in June, missing four months of training.
“I missed the training block in the summer where we really get to work on our technique,” Sankey said. “During the winter, it’s just been competition. It’s been tough missing that building period, but I’m honestly really grateful I was able to come back and recover and even have the opportunity to be in Europe and be competing at the World Cups and chasing the ultimate goal.”
Just as Sankey recovered from hip surgery, the Mayo Clinic discovered she had a heart condition during her physical. Sankey underwent cardiac ablation surgery, which eliminates tissue that causes abnormal heart beats.
“Normally it’s fine, but basically an extra electrical pathway between the two chambers of your heart,” Sankey said. “The electrical signal can get shorted out there and cause your heart to beat really fast hundreds of times in a second, but mostly, it ends up being OK.”
Recovering from the heart surgery took two weeks, but Sankey was cautious about getting her heart rate up.
Sankey has had two top-10 World Cup finishes this year and looks at the World Championships as an opportunity to grow as an athlete competing on the international stage.
“It’s been a whirlwind year from being on crutches seven months ago to now being a part of this historic event,” Sankey said. “I feel like I’ve grown this season really quickly.”
Of the five Nordic combined athletes going to the 2019 World Championships in Seefeld, Austria, on Feb. 22, three of them will be from Steamboat Springs.
Taylor Fletcher, 28, a four-time World Championship team member and three-time Olympian, will join the men’s team as the most seasoned athlete. Fletcher won two a Continental Cup competition in Steamboat Springs and in Park City, while also staying a contender in the top-30 for most of his World Cup appearances.
Steamboat Springs carries on the traditions set by people like Fletcher, sending two additional USA Nordic athletes to the World Championships. Olympic team member Jasper Good, 22, and Grant Andrews, 21, will both make their first appearances at the World Championships.
“I was super excited,” Andrews said. “I think all of us on the team kind of knew we were going already, but getting that official announcement and seeing my name there was pretty exciting.”
Both Andrews and Good have spent their winters competing on the World Cup circuit. Andrews also saw his best results at the Continental Cup in Steamboat Springs, landing in the top 30.
“I would say that it’s really cool to have two other guys from my hometown competing with me at world championships this year,” Andrews said. “But I didn’t really have second thoughts about that because I’ve been training with them and known them for so long, it’s kind of normal.”
Good notched top-10 finishes at the Continental Cup in Steamboat Springs and has since finished in the top 30 in three World Cup events.
Three members of the U.S. team also retired this season, making room for the younger generation to step up.
“Everyone is super close in our ability level,” Good said. “Every one of us, if someone achieves a result, everyone can be like he did that two days ago, so I can do that.”
A segmented training regime also has allowed athletes to emphasize particular skills for improvement. For much of the cross-country training, USA Nordic trained in the U.S. Ski jumping training was done in Europe.
“It’s kind of like blocking out our year and having to be more focused on different things at different times,” Good said. “We had a travel plan to keep us fresh and be recharged, and we got to go home for the first part of our pre-world championship training.”
Good has enjoyed his post-Olympic year. The training didn’t slow down, but enjoying experiences like a White House visit and recreational skiing in the backcountry with his friends at home have lifted the stress that loomed over him during the Olympic year.
“It’s definitely good for the soul to get some powder days in,” Good said.
Seefeld is also one of Good’s favorite places to compete because it reminds him of Steamboat Springs. He enters the World Championships with the goal of having a top-30 finish.
“It’s huge for us,” Good said. “Steamboat is where we all grew up, and because of Steamboat, we were able to develop into the athletes that we are.”
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