Tirone soars to top of results on final day of Junior Championships | SteamboatToday.com

Tirone soars to top of results on final day of Junior Championships

Arthur Tirone takes flight during last week's USA Nordic Junior Championships at Howelsen Hill. (Photo by John F. Russell)

STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — Saturday turned out to be an unexpected journey for Arthur Tirone as he wrapped up his first opportunity at the 2021 USA Nordic Junior Championships, which took place at Howelsen Hill this past week.

“It was insane. I had no idea that I would even make it through the first round,” Tirone said. “I just kept going through rounds and rounds, and then at the round of 16, I’m like, ‘Wow, there’s only 16 people up here.’ Then my mindset totally changed, and I almost forgot that I even took jumps before that. It was weird.”

Tirone, a 13-year-old student at Steamboat Springs Middle School, was competing in his first junior nationals and collected his first junior national title after winning the elimination jump, the final event of the 2021 championships in Steamboat Springs.

The jumping event uses a handicap based on the athlete’s jumping performances in the individual and team events throughout the week. That handicap is used as athletes make their way though a bracket that puts men, women and jumpers of different levels in a single competition that Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club coach Karl Denney said is a fair system that gives all of the 58 competitors taking part in this years championships a chance of winning the title.

“We designed this event as a way for athletes who don’t normally win events to have a shot at it,” Denney said. “We’ve actually refined this handicap system, so that it’s pretty much an equal chance for one of the better jumpers to do well as it is for like one of the novice jumpers to do well … basically just competing against yourself. If you beat your own average, and somebody else does not, that’s how you’re going win.”

Tirone was able to slip past Alaska’s Skyler Amy in the first round, teammate Thomas Miller in the round of 32 and Central Division skier Sophia Schreiner in the round of 16. In the quarterfinals, Tirone topped Estella Hassrick and then Jason Colby in the semifinals.

On the other side of the bracket, Intermountain Division skier Zach Selzman had a first-round bye, topped Steamboat’s Emma Russell in the round of 32, Charlotte Ripp in the round of 16, Bonnie Sue Larson in the quarterfinals and Josie Johnson in the semifinals to advance to the finals to meet Tirone.

“I made it through the first round and got super hyped,” Tirone said. “I think just because I was happy with my first jump, my mindset really changed, and I got more confident throughout the whole thing.”

On the final jump Tirone soared 77 meters (with his handicap) to top Selzman who flew for 73 meters on his final jump. Tirone said the event was a great way to wrap up a week where he learned that a positive mindset before you push off the bar is enough to launch an athlete to his goals.

“I wasn’t doing the best in the individual and the team events. I was just a little nervous, because this is my first year (at) junior nationals. My mindset just wasn’t there, because I would have a bad jump and then just lose everything,” Tirone said. “My first jump in the elimination gave me a lot of confidence, and that probably got me through the first round. Then I could just feel that confidence growing as I made it through one round and then the next.”

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