K-68 ski jump nearing completion

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When Nordic director Todd Wilson looks up at Howelsen Hill these days, he has to stop for a moment just to make sure his eyes are not playing tricks on him.

After more than 30 years of coming to Howelsen Hill, first as an athlete and later as a coach, he can see his dream of a plastic-covered, year-round jump taking shape.

"This is what we've been working for and talking about since I was a teenager," Wilson said. "It finally looks like a world-class ski jump, and it's beautiful."

For Wilson and many oth--er members of Steamboat Springs' Nordic community, the evolution of the jumps the past couple months has been nearly as exciting as watching a hometown skiers launching to World Cup glory at the famous venue.

"When I look up there, I still can't believe that it's happening," Wilson said.

If things go Gerry Carter's way, Wilson and his skiers will be taking flight off the jump by the first week of October -- hopefully, a couple of weeks ahead of the snow.

"I would say the jump is about 90 percent complete," the project superintendent for TCD Inc. said Monday. "We have our final concrete pour scheduled for Thursday, and then, it will just be a matter of finishing the final details and getting the plastic on."

Those details include backfilling several sections, installing a protective safety wall, laying two-by-fours as steps alongside one side of the jump, applying a final paint coat and attaching more than 1,000 anchor bolts.

His crews also will install the foam matting and netting that will hold the plastic in place during the summer.

Carter said it's not a small list, but the jump has come a long way since it was started in summer 2004.

"We still have a lot to do, but I'm starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel," Carter said.

While Carter wraps up his must-do list, Wilson is hoping that volunteers can begin the task of attaching the plastic to the hill.

Wilson said he would start with the in-run later this week before moving to the landing hill, which will require more time and help from volunteers.

If the weather cooperates, the project should be completed by October. Wilson hopes to have a better idea of the amount of time and work required after the in-run is complete.

However, he already knows he will need plenty of volunteers to get the plastic on the landing hill by the first of October. Wilson said volunteers will be needed beginning Sept. 17, and people who are willing to lend a hand should call the Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club at 879-0695, ext. 100, to put their names on a list of volunteers.

Carter said he plans to volunteer some of his time to help complete the project he has spent the past two summers working to finish.

"Once we hand the project over to Todd, my part will officially be over," Carter said. "But I'm sure I will be up their volunteering my time to get the job done."

The Colorado Ski Heritage Project, which began the task of raising money more than 4 years ago, is very close to reaching its goal of $2.45 million.

Construction of the jumps began in spring 2004 and will be completed in October of this year.

Linda Kakela, who has spearheaded the grant writing for the project, said the fundraising effort to pay for the jumps is within $10,000 of its final goal. She is hoping to close that gap in the next few weeks before the jump construction is completed. Anyone who wants to donate to the jump can call Kakela at 871-8230.

"We just want to thank Colorado Ski Heritage Project Committee and the local Nordic community for their roles in making this jump a possibility," said Rick DeVos, SSWSC executive director.

"Without those groups, none of this would have happened."

-- To reach John F. Russell call 871-4209

or e-mail jrussell@steamboatpilot.com

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