Open houses will benefit ski jumps

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— Johnny Spillane's victory at the Nordic Combined World Championships came at a convenient time for the Colorado Ski Heritage Project.

This week, the group working to upgrade Howelsen Hill's ski jumps is holding two public open houses.

The group will also celebrate Spillane's historic win in the Nordic combined sprint at the World Championships. Spillane, who grew up in Steamboat Springs, is the first American to win at the Olympics or at the world championships.

As the Colorado Ski Heritage Project works to make the jumps at Howelsen Hill year-round facilities, victories like Spillane's are important, City Director of Intergovernmental Services Linda Kakela said.

"This says a lot of what our challenge was when we started, which is trying to upgrade a local facility in order to keep Steamboat a prominent producer of young athletes and elite athletes," Kakela said.

The group had decided to hold an open house before Spillane's victory. Kakela said the open house would give the community a chance to look at the plans and designs for the Howelsen Hill upgrades.

Construction is scheduled to start this summer. Plans call for covering the K-65 ski jump with a plastic surface and increasing the snow making capacity for the K-90 and K-114 ski jumps.

Kakela said computer graphic designs would be available along with representatives from the Colorado Ski Heritage Project.

Through grants and donations, the Colorado Ski Heritage Project has raised $2 million for the $2.4 million project.

Kakela said she would like to see the remaining $400,000 raised by the time construction gets under way.

Last year, the Colorado Department of Local Affairs gave the city a $1.2 million grant for the ski jumping project.

The open house Wednesday will be from 5 to 7 p.m. at Olympian Hall, will coincide with the Winter Sports Club's Wednesday night jumping. On Thursday, the open house will be from 4 to 6 p.m. at Centennial Hall.

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