It was a struggle for construction worker Robert Grollen to find solid footing in the loose dirt near the top of the K-68 jump Friday.
He would be the first to admit that the jump's 34-degree slope is not ideal for construction.
But if all goes as planned, the work on Steamboat's new year-round, plastic-covered jump will be completed by late August or September, when Grollen and the other construction workers will yield the steep slopes to world-class athletes.
"I think everybody at the club is excited to see this thing finished," said Todd Wilson, Nordic program director for the Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club. "We've all been waiting for this for a long time."
Doug Bradfield said that work crews got back on the hill earlier this week and began the task of opening roads and removing the protective, temporary plastic covers. They also started to build the forms for several scheduled concrete pours.
Bradfield, who is the project manager for the design team at Civil Design Consultants Inc., was confident that the general contractor in charge of constructing the jump is off to a good start this spring. He said crews already have begun work on the upper part of the jump.
It will be followed by some final earthwork on the outrun, the installation of some deep concrete anchors and the pouring of concrete slabs at the bottom of the hill.
When the heavy construction work has been completed, the project will be handed over to Wilson and a group of volunteers who plan to install the plastic on the outrun, one of the final steps before the jumps can open. Everyone involved hopes the jumps will open in late August or early September.
"We are about 70 percent complete right now," said Wendy DuBord, deputy city manager.
The project is behind schedule and over budget. But DuBord and others are happy with the progress.
Bradfield and Wilson said the jumps made it through the winter in excellent shape. Wilson said having the hill available year-round is vital to the success of the Winter Sports Club's programs and that the new jump meets or exceeds all expectations.
DuBord said she would update City Council and ask for an additional $100,000 at the council's June 7 meeting.
The money would be used to cover the unforeseen delays in construction caused by a slump on the K-114 hill and weather, as well as the expenses incurred to winterize the jumps so that they could be used last winter.
"We lost 23 days last summer due to weather," DuBord said. "We had planned on losing a few days, but that's amazing."
DuBord said the city had made a commitment to have the jumps open last winter and that it was worth the expense to make that happen. She said it's not surprising that the project is over budget.
"This is a very difficult construction project," DuBord said. "I don't think we realized all that was involved when we started this."
Although the project needs more funds, the Colorado Ski Heritage Project is closing in on its target of $2.45 million. The group is hoping to have raised the final $40,000 by the end of June.
Linda Kakela, intergovernmental services director, said fund-raising efforts are on-track and that this final push was anticipated from the start.
"It was part of the plan," Kakela said. "We expect to raise that money through private donations and from the supporters of the project."
She added that a separate fund-raising effort might have to be started to help cover the added expenses if the city does not cover them.
"This is an amazing accomplishment that we raised the money for this project through private sources and grants," Kakela said.
More than 200 contributors from across the state have given money and support to the project.