Monday, November 19, 2001
Steamboat Springs A couple of top results in Steamboat Springs this December may be the best chance a young ski jumper or Nordic Combined athlete has to be invited to Utah this February.
"It's a wonderful opportunity to go to the Olympics," Steamboat Springs special jumper Tommy Schwall said.
The Gold Cup is an Olympic qualifying event that will be held in Steamboat Springs Dec. 19. The winner will earn an automatic berth to the Olympics and a check for $10,000. Steamboat is scheduled to host the Nordic Combined and special jumping events prior to the Olympic Games.
The skiers on the national teams have already earned the right to ski in the Gold Cup. Ten other skiers (in each discipline) will also be invited to the event based on finishes at the four Gold Cup tryouts.
For the veteran skiers of the U.S. Team, the Gold Cup is a chance to earn a big paycheck. For the younger skiers, however, the event is a chance to punch their tickets for the Olympic Games.
"The Olympic squad (for the Nordic Combined skiers) has already been decided," said Tommy's cousin Adam Schwall. "So this is the only chance left to get to the Olympics this year."
The first of those Gold Cup tryout events is scheduled to take place in Park City, Utah, this weekend; however, the lack of snow might cause that event to be postponed until later this winter.
The next tryout will take place in Steamboat Springs Dec. 1 and 2. These events are open to any skier who wants to take a shot at the Gold Cup.
"I think we will have a field of about 50 to 70 skiers," said Todd Wilson, Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club nordic director.
The coach said the field of hopefuls will include members of the U.S. Ski Team's development squad and a few members of other clubs who feel as if they have a shot to make the Gold Cup cut. He said several Steamboat Springs skiers would be among the group.
The Schwalls agreed competition would be tough in both the Nordic Combined and special jumping events at the Gold Cup. Neither skier was really setting his expectations too high.
Tommy Schwall said he would be thrilled with a victory, but he would also be happy with a top 3 finish.
"Alan (Alborn) is skiing amazing right now, but anything can happen," Tommy Schwall said. "There are five guys with a real good chance of winning this thing and I think I'm in there right now."
The coach said he expects the jump hills at Howelsen to be open in plenty of time for the Gold Cup tryouts.
However, if the warm weather pattern continues, the cross-country portion of the events may still be in question.
"It's way too early to tell," Wilson said. "I'm sure we will be in pretty good shape by then."
Wilson said the Winter Sports Club is shooting to have the jump hills open later this week or early next week.