Fletcher tops weekend

Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club crowns multiple champions

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Between Friday night and Saturday afternoon, every ski jump at Howelsen Hill was put to good use.

The Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club hosted a Rocky Mountain Division tournament and Junior Olympic qualifier this weekend, welcoming youths from Colorado and Utah to Howelsen.

And the host club did its fair share of winning.

The Winter Sports Club crowned 15 champions, including a majority of the Nordic combined champions in the second of three Junior Olympic qualifiers scheduled this winter. The final one will be in Steamboat next month, as well.

The competition kicked off Friday night with competitions on the K18, K25 and K38 hills for the younger athletes.

The Winter Sports Club's Madison Keeffe won the J5 girls competition with 159.8 points. Meg O'Connell was second, and Lena Barker was third.

Ben Berend of the SSWSC won the J5 boys competition with 221.8 points. Teammate Nicholas Madden was third.

Steamboat's Taylor Fletcher won the J2 boys competition on the newly remodeled K68 hill Saturday with 267.6 points, kicking off the second day of events. Teammate Charlie Stoddard was third.

Bryan Fletcher, who is coming off a slew of good results at the 2005 North American Junior National Championships, won the K68 hill competition in the senior men's division, setting a new hill record with a jump of 72 meters. He scored 278.1 total points. Alex Miller was second, and Matt Delaney was third.

Bryan Fletcher also won the K90 and K114 competitions, which helped propel him to a win in the Nordic combined race Saturday afternoon at Howelsen. Teammates Brett Denney and Charlie Stoddard were second and third, respectively.

"The thing that really stands out is Bryan Fletcher's comeback," Winter Sports Club coach Gary Crawford said. "He's jumping really well and had a really good cross-country race (Saturday)."

Fletcher had both knees operated on in 2003.

Keeffe, Berend, Emily Hannah (J4 girls), Jake Barker (J4 boys), Erik Lynch (J3 boys) and Taylor Fletcher (J2 boys) also won Nordic combined races Saturday for the Winter Sports Club.

In all, more than 80 youths turned out for the competition, which used the six hills on Howelsen.

"Some of the younger kids got to move up and jump on the bigger hills at this competition," Crawford said.

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