Steamboat hosts JO Freestyle Championships

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— This mountain town has played host to some of freestyle skiing's elite athletes during several recent World Cup events.

But this week, the slopes of the Steamboat Ski Area will be reserved for the next generation of stars during the Junior Olympic Freestyle Championships.

"This is a really big deal for us," local coach Erik Skinner said. "They (the Rocky Mountain Division) have been asking us to host it for several years, but this is the first time that we've been able to do it."

Hosting the Junior Olympics means more than 180 top junior athletes ages 13 to 25 will visit Steamboat this week to compete in superpipe, moguls, aerials, big air and dual mogul events. National titles will be at stake in both the superpipe and big air events.

"I think all of our skiers are excited about having this event here in Steamboat," Skinner said. "It's a lot of work to put a deal like this on, but my staff is also pretty excited about it."

The week will kick off on Wednesday with the superpipe event at Mavericks.

The moguls will follow on Thursday, aerials will take place at the Park Smalley complex Friday and the big air event will take place at the terrain park Saturday.

The Junior Olympic championships will come to a close on Sunday, when the young skiers get their last shot at a title in the dual mogul events.

The events are scheduled to begin at 10 a.m. each day. The winners will be announced at an awards banquet Sunday evening.

"We are scheduled to host the event this year," Skinner said. "If we do a good job and everything works for us, then maybe they will ask us to do it again in the future. But we are just going to have to see how things go."

More than 20 of the competitors in this week's events are from Steamboat.

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