Steamboat Springs Clear blue skies and more than 50 special jumpers and Nordic Combined skiers helped launch Howelsen Hill's first competition of the year.
Steamboat's Winter Sports Club athlete Alex Glueck ended Saturday as the first Howelsen Hill winner of the season when he came from behind to win the cross country skiing portion of the Nordic Combined competition. He finished almost a minute ahead of the competition, which came from the Rocky Mountain, Intermountain and Eastern divisions.
"It was the first competition of the season so I just wanted to feel things out, see if the training paid off. But, I wasn't too nervous. I came out to have fun," Glueck said.
This weekend Howelsen Hill plays host to the first of two Gold Cup tryouts as athletes attempt to qualify for a chance to compete in the Gold Cup where the winner has an outside chance of earning a spot on the U.S. Olympic team.
Eight Steamboat athletes competed in the Nordic Combined event that had skiers jumping Saturday morning and cross country skiing in the afternoon.
In the jumping competition, 19-year old Glueck finished in second place among the Nordic combined skiers with a score of 199.5. Morgan Goodwin earned the first place start in the cross-country skiing race by finishing first in the jumps with a score of 202.
Despite starting nine seconds after Goodwin, Glueck was able to pull out ahead in the cross country skiing race with a time of 19.28, which had him finishing almost a minute before Goodwin.
Coming into the race, Glueck said he was concerned about how he would fare in the racing competition because of an injury this fall.
"I wasn't quite sure how I was going to race. This fall, I haven't raced in competitions," he said.
But, Glueck was able to capture the second fastest time among the 24 competitors. Eric Camerota, who had the fastest time of 19:25, was able to move up six slots to finish fourth despite starting 1 minute and 43 seconds after Goodwin.
Also, placing in the top 10 for the Winter Sports Club were Ethan Johnson and Bryan Fletcher. Ethan placed fifth dropping two places in the cross country race after finishing third in the jumping. Trailing Ethan was Fletcher who ended the competition in sixth, but came into the race with a fourth-place start.
The competition was the first of two tryouts for the Gold Cup, which will take the skiers who place in the top 10 of the final results of the tryouts. The winner of the actual Gold Cup event will earn a guaranteed spot on the Olympic team and a check for $10,000.
Saturday morning was also the start of the special jumping competition that will finish today. Paul Lebel led the competition with a score of 237.
Steamboat had two athletes in the top five after the first day. Tommy Schwall stood in second with a score of 231 and Brendan Doran placed fourth with 222 points.