Juniors fare well at qualifiers

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— With two out of three Junior Olympic qualifiers behind him, Steamboat Springs Nordic combined skier Bryan Fletcher can start to breathe a little easier.

His first-place showing in both the Nordic combined and K-60 jumping events (as well as a second in the K-90) at a Junior Olympic qualifier, which was held last weekend here in Steamboat, have guaranteed him a trip to Coleraine, Minn., later this winter.

"I'm pretty happy with the way I jumped on the K-60," Fletcher said. "I didn't jump that well on the bigger hill, but I've got some time to work on that."

Fletcher, who was recently selected to forejump at the Olympic Games in three weeks, was just one of several local jumpers who were taking part in the second qualifying event of the season. The first was held earlier this year in Winter Park and the final will be held in Steamboat Springs Feb. 2.

Fletcher said he didn't feel a lot of pressure at the events last weekend but admitted the Park City skiers were pushing him especially in the K-90 event.

Fletcher topped National Sports Foundation ski jumper Blake Hughes on the K-60 hill. Skyler Keate, also of Park City, was third followed by Steamboat ski jumpers Andreas Aalbu in fourth and Paul Berry in fifth. Other top Steamboat finishers included Taylor Fletcher in 10th, Andy Garber in 12th and Charlie Stoddard in 19th.

On the larger hill, Bryan Fletcher finished behind Hughes, who won the event, and teammate Garber, who was second. Fletcher was third, however, because Garber is too old to qualify for the Junior Olympics and he didn't count in the final standings.

"I jumped pretty well," Fletcher said. "Sure it could have been better, but I'm not complaining."

Utah jumpers Brett Camerota came in fourth, Anders Johnson was fifth and Adam Schwall was sixth. Davis Miller rounded out the top 10 for the Steamboat team in eighth place.

Fletcher also led the way in the Nordic combined event. He topped teammates Paul Berry, who was second, and Aalbu, who was third. Garber finished fourth in the Nordic combined competition for J-2 skiers. Other top local finishers in the combined event included Cliff Field, who won the J-5 event, and Charlie Stoddard, who topped the J-4 event.

In other special jumping action Steamboat's Erik Lynch (J-6) and Luke Anderson (J-5) both won their classes on the K-18 hill. Aalbu topped the J-4 boys on the K-25 hill and Utah skier Johnson won the J-3 event on the K-38 hill.

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