July Fourth Ski Jumping Extravaganza ready to take off this weekend | SteamboatToday.com

July Fourth Ski Jumping Extravaganza ready to take off this weekend

A Steamboat winter tradition continues to build steam on 4th of July

Steamboat Springs' Bryan Fletcher races down the in-run of Steamboat's K-68 hill during training Wednesday morning. Fletcher, a member of the U.S. Nordic Combined Ski Team, is in town as part of a national camp. The members of the U.S. team also are expected to compete in Nordic combined and special jumping events at this weekend's July Fourth Ski Jumping Extravaganza.
John F. Russell

Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club Nordic skiing director Todd Wilson wouldn't be surprised to see more than 2,000 spectators standing at the base of Howelsen Hill on Sunday.

The crowd will be on hand to watch one of Steamboat Springs' longest-running winter traditions — ski jumping — take flight in the warm July air during the July Fourth Ski Jumping Extravaganza. This is the fifth year the event will be held on Howelsen's plastic-covered K-68 ski jump.

The Ski Jumping Extrava­ganza will take place Saturday and Sunday. The competition begins at 9 a.m. Saturday with a trial jump round and two competitive jumps.

The competitive jumps will be used to seed the Nordic combined cross-country roller-ski race Sunday morning.

The field is expected to in­­clude athletes from the Steam­­boat Springs Winter Sports Club, Canada and the U.S. Nordic Combined Ski Team, which has been in town this week for a training camp.

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"It's a good place to be for the Fourth," said Dave Jarrett, the U.S. Ski Team's Nordic combined coach. "The race on Main Street is one of the best races of the whole year."

Winter Olympic silver medalists Johnny Spillane, Brett Camerota and Todd Lodwick will highlight the field. U.S. Ski Team members Eric Camerota, Bryan Fletcher, Taylor Fletcher, Brett Denney and Nick Hen­drickson also are expected to jump in the event. There also will be a number of Nordic combined team prospects on hand, as well as former U.S. Ski Team members Davis and Alex Miller.

Those athletes will use roller-skis to race down the spectator-lined Lincoln Avenue before Sunday's parade. The 2-kilometer race is scheduled to start at 9:30 a.m. on Fifth Street. The format will be similar to the one used in February's Winter Olympics, with the athlete's starting position determined by his finish in the first official round of Saturday's jumping competition using the Gundersen Sys­tem, which is used to translate jump points into time. The top jumpers will start the cross-country race first with the remaining athletes starting based on their jump results.

Jarrett said the new concrete on Lincoln could make for an interesting race. He said racing on concrete is more difficult because the pole tips do not grip the concrete surface the way they grip asphalt.

"That was the first thing I thought about when I heard about the change to Lincoln," Jarrett said. "Lucky for us, only part of the race will take place on the concrete."

After the cross-country race, the athletes will return to the jump hill at 11 a.m. to qualify for a special jumping elimination competition. The event will start with 24 athletes. That number will be reduced to 12 and then six before a final round to determine the winner.

— To reach John F. Russell call 871-4209 or e-mail jrussell@steamboatpilot.com

If you go

What: July Fourth Ski Jumping Extravaganza

When: 9 a.m. Saturday (jumping); 9:30 a.m. Sunday (cross-country roller-skiing); 11 a.m. and 12:30 p.m. (jumping).

Where: Ski jumping events at Howelsen Hill, cross-country roller ski race on Lincoln Avenue

Cost: Free

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