Scholarships awarded to World Junior hopefuls

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It was difficult for Bryan Fletcher and Davis Miller to hide their smiles when coach Gary Crawford broke the news Tuesday afternoon.

Thanks to the Marvin Crawford Memorial Scholarship Fund, each of the athletes received $1,000 to help offset the cost of their trip to Finland, and the World Junior Championships next week.

"This is great," Fletcher said. "I was shocked when I learned that the U.S. Ski Team was not going to reimburse the skiers for top finishes. It's a lot of money, but in the past, we've had a chance to get it back."

Miller was equally as happy to get the money knowing that it will help ease the burden on his parents, who struggle each year to support his, and his twin brother, Alex's, Nordic combined ambitions.

It was a cause for celebration when the two Steamboat athletes made the cut -- along with Willy Graves, Brett and Eric Camerota.

The celebration was tempered, however, when the athletes discovered that they needed a top 20 finish to have their expenses covered. Then this week the news got worse when the U.S. Ski Team announced that it was over budget this season and could not reimburse the athletes no matter where they finished.

"The ski team has always held that (reimbursement) out there as a carrot," Crawford said. "So to learn that it's not available is very disappointing for these athletes and their families."

Crawford said the cost of the trip to Rovaniemi, Finland, is about $3,500 for each athlete. The coach is hoping the scholarship funds will help the athletes and their families absorb the cost.

After learning about the Ski Team's decision, the Nordic combined coach called his mother, Edith, and older brothers Rod and Greg to find a solution. The family had not planned to give a scholarship this year, but they couldn't think of a better time or reason to honor Marvin's legacy.

Crawford said that the two skiers are the type of athletes that his father would have liked to support and that he could not think of more deserving athletes.

Marvin Crawford helped ignite Steamboat Springs Olympic Heritage as a part of the American Nordic combined team at the 1956 Olympics in Cortina. He was also an outstanding four-way skier who excelled in every discipline on skis.

Fletcher and Miller are working hard to following in Marvin's footsteps, and being named to the World Junior team last month was a step in the right direction.

Fletcher is rebounding from an off-year in 2003-04 when he was slowed by a knee injury. Miller got off to a fast start this year by earning a World Cup B start, but a back problem slowed him at the North American Championships and the first World Junior qualifier.

Crawford said he was proud of how hard both skiers worked this season to overcome setbacks and reach their goal of making it to World Juniors.

The Marvin Crawford Memorial Scholarship Fund was started from donations at the time of his death.

Crawford hopes that people in the community will continue to donate to the fund, so that skiers such as Fletcher and Miller can continue to pursue their dreams.

For more information about how you can help Fletcher and Miller or make a contribution to the Marvin Crawford Memorial Scholarship Fund, call Gary at 879-8380. Anyone who wants to contribute to the scholarship fund directly also can send donations to P.O. Box 881021, Steamboat Springs, CO 80488.

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