Springer Tournee provides athletes a new motivation in Nordic competition
Several Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club ski jumping and Nordic combined athletes went to Park City, Utah, last week to compete in the 23rd annual Springer Tournee, which is one of the most popular summer skiing tournaments in the country.
Fifteen club athletes with the SSWSC made the trip with nine alumni also representing the USA Nordic Sport National Team at the five-day tournament from July 25-30.
Altogether, athletes representing Steamboat amassed six gold medals and left the competition with a ton of experience.
Nico Boudre, Emma Russell, Alexa Brabec, Niklas Malacinski, Annika Malacinski and Annika Belshaw all finished in first place for their respective divisions and hill sizes.
The Springer Tournee is unique compared to most competitions and includes hybrid competition formats, obstacle courses in Nordic combined races and exciting events like Mentorship Day.
Karl Denney, coach for U16-and-up athletes at the SSWSC, believes these additions to the competition are what separates it from so many other tournaments.
“It’s a big competition, and that’s attractive in itself, but there are other big competitions that don’t get nearly as much attention because of the community feeling,” Denney said.
So many different age groups and skill levels are able to participate with the professional athletes becoming mentors to the younger athletes.
Mentorship Day is a highlight event where U10 to U16 athletes are separated into groups and assigned two mentors from the National Team.
The pro athletes get a chance to coach the younger athletes through their jumps and then give them a standardized physical test in the afternoon. These standardized tests are used to create averages and expectations for certain age groups as the season goes on.
“All these youngsters get to meet the National Team athletes. They run them through a warmup, teach them a thing or two along the way, and it’s kind of like parenting from a coach’s standpoint,” Denney said.
The younger kids also get to participate in a new ski jumping format for the 10 and 20 meter hill sizes. Instead of running a traditional two-jump format, USA Nordic constructed a three-jump format, highlighting an athlete’s individual skills in the first two jumps and granting them a third jump that is scored through the standard method.
The younger group is able to learn from some of the best Nordic athletes in the country and give them someone to look up to. Toward the end of the week, athletes can cheer on the members of their group in competition.
“It’s a great opportunity to let the older athletes, the National Team members, know how to have an influence on the next generation and how important that influence is,” Denney said.
Denney stressed the importance of keeping the competitions as fun as possible for the younger athletes. For the SSWSC, it’s all about keeping the energy high and ensuring the athletes look forward to competing.
He emphaszied that the Springer Tournee does a great job pushing that agenda, which is why it is a tournament they mark on the calendar every year.
The Nordic combined races for the U10 to U14 age groups included an obstacle course for part of the trail to make the race more challenging and fun for the participants.
“They’re trying to make these races seem more appealing for the kids so they’re not dreading going out to run,” Denney said. “(It’s) so they fall in love with athleticism itself at a young age, and I think that’s a really powerful tool.”
To reach Tom Skulski, call 970-871-4240, email tskulski@SteamboatPilot.com.
Support Local Journalism
Support Local Journalism
Readers around Steamboat and Routt County make the Steamboat Pilot & Today’s work possible. Your financial contribution supports our efforts to deliver quality, locally relevant journalism.
Now more than ever, your support is critical to help us keep our community informed about the evolving coronavirus pandemic and the impact it is having locally. Every contribution, however large or small, will make a difference.
Each donation will be used exclusively for the development and creation of increased news coverage.