Tuesday, December 10, 2002
Steamboat Springs Dave Jarrett arrived in Olympian Hall late Tuesday afternoon and pulled a pair of cross country ski boots out of a large duffel bag in preparation for an afternoon ski.
Jarrett is familiar with the 15-kilometer World Cup course, which is set in the shadows of Howelsen Hill.
For years, the longtime local trained and competed on them as a member of the U.S. Nordic Combined team. He retired in 1998.
But this year, Jarrett, who now lives in Heber City, Utah, will return to Steamboat Springs to take on a different kind of challenge in front of the hometown crowd.
This time around, you will not find his name on the list of competitors those days are long gone.
Instead, Jarrett, who is now the development coach for the U.S. Nordic Combined Ski team, will have to funnel his competitive drive into helping the future American stars find their own success on the hills and trails of Howelsen Hill.
"I'm kind of the new guy, so I don't really know what to expect from the rest of the field," Jarrett said. "But I know our guys will be ready and that the Americans will be competitive."
Last year the United States won the Nations Cup on the World Cup B circuit and because of that will have one of the largest teams in this week's three Nordic combined events.
The Americans have eight skiers qualified to ski on the World Cup B and will be allowed to double the size of the squad because they are the host nation.
Jarrett said that would allow many young skiers, including several from Steamboat, to have a chance to step into the international field.
Those young skiers will mix with competitors like Carl Van Loan, Nathan Gerhart and Jed Hinkley, who just recently returned home from the World Cup A events to take part.
Van Loan was ranked second in the World Cup B point rankings at the end of last year.
Top skier Sverre Rotevatn of Norway also moved up to A this year but is not expected to come to Steamboat this week.
"This is a great opportunity for our juniors," Jarrett said. "But I think the Americans will be very competitive this week at least I hope so."
Kathi Meyer, the co-chair of the World Cup B, said she is expecting a top international event.
By Tuesday, all 14 countries had arrived and more than 70 competitors were expected to take the hill today for an informal training session. Official training begins at 9 a.m. Thursday and will allow each athlete three jumps on Howelsen's K-114 hill.
Meyer said she also expects the Germans to be one of the strongest teams with eight athletes scheduled to compete. But nobody knows who will be the hot skier on the tour because Friday's competition will be the first of the season for the World Cup B athletes.
"These are going to be the athletes who will take center stage in Torino in 2006," Meyer said. "This is where they will get their start."
The World Cup B event will start on Friday with jumping at 10 a.m. and cross country at noon. The same schedule will be followed for Saturday's event.
Both will be sprint events, which consist of one jump and a 7.5-kilometer cross country race.
On Sunday, the athletes will compete in a Gundersen event which includes two rounds of jumping starting at 10 a.m. and a 15-kilometer cross country race at 2 p.m.