Raising the bar

Ski jumpers set hill record at Junior Olympics

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It didn't take a psychic to predict ski jumpers Anders Johnson and Taylor Fletcher were going to make noise at this week's Junior Olympics.

But by the end of Saturday's K-68 special jumping competition, someone should have filed a noise complaint with the Steamboat Spring Police Department.

After an uneventful trial round, officials elected to let the jumpers move up the hill a couple of starts to increase in-run speeds and distances.

The move resulted in two terrific rounds of jumping with the top jumpers pushing their talents to the limits and breaking the hill record in the process.

"It was great," Johnson said after winning the special jumping Junior Olympic title. "I knew right away that I was going 75 or 76 (meters). ... I just wanted to nail the telemark landing."

Johnson, who set a new hill record of 76.5 meters in the second round, won the event with 253 points.

"I jumped well in the trial round, but the speeds were a little slower, so I didn't go quite as far," Johnson said.

After the first round, Johnson found himself in a heated contest with Fletcher and a pair of Canadian jumpers.

Trevor Morrice, who also held the hill record briefly in the first round with a jump of 76 meters, had the second longest

jump of the first round and won the guest class with 247.5 points.

Fletcher, the hometown favorite, didn't get as far down the hill, but scored well on both of his jumps to place second for the Americans with 247. 5 points and third overall.

His teammate, Mackenzie Boyd-Clowes, was third after the first round with a jump of 75 meters. He finished second in the guest class and fourth overall behind Fletcher.

"I knew that Anders had a good jump in the first round," Fletcher said. "I just had to go back up the hill and give it everything I had."

The silver medal was Fletcher's third medal of the week. He was part of the Rocky Mountain Division team that finished third in the team event, he paired with Brett Denney to win the Nordic combined gold on Thursday night and was happy to win the silver Saturday.

"I'm really happy with the way I jumped today," Fletcher said. "There were a lot of good jumpers out here today, and I'm happy to win another medal."

Other top Steamboat finishers in Saturday's special jumping event included Charlie Stoddard, who was eighth among Americans and 11th overall.

Denney placed 11th among Americans and 16th overall.

In the girls competition, Intermountain Division jumper Abby Hughes was the top American jumper and second overall with jumps of 65.5 and 63.5 meters. Canada's Katie Willis took the overall title with jumps of 70 and 65.5 meters. She also won the guest class.

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

or e-mail jrussell@steamboatpilot.com

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