The final push

Nordic director

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After years of dreaming about a plastic-covered jump at the base of Howelsen Hill, Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club Nordic Director Todd Wilson finally can see the light at the end of the tunnel.

Or is it the plastic covering the landing hill at Howelsen he sees?

"We've only had three full days of laying plastic, and we are halfway done," Wilson said Thursday.

Wilson and a few members of the Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club began applying the plastic covering to the jump the first weekend of September. It took just longer than one day for the small crew to cover the jump's in-run.

The bigger job of applying plastic to the landing hill began Sept. 17. Crews also worked on the project last weekend.

"We've had tremendous help from the club's membership and other volunteers," Wilson said. "We've had a lot of parents of current jumpers and even a few parents who used to have kids jumping in the program."

The work crews, which have averaged between 20 and 35 people during the first couple of weekends of work, also have included coaches, athletes and community members who want to be part of Steamboat's newest amenity.

"This is the biggest thing to happen to ski jumping in Steamboat Springs since John Fetcher rebuilt the jumps," Wilson said.

In the 1970s, Fetcher led the Steamboat Springs Ski Jumping Commission, which spearheaded the $1.1 million project to rebuild the Howelsen ski jumps.

Two years ago, crews began the challenging task of rebuilding the K-68 jump and covering it with plastic -- a job funded by the Colorado Ski Heritage project, which raised $2.45 million for the update.

Construction crews completed the bulk of the project earlier this summer. Wilson since has led a volunteer effort to complete the project by securing the plastic surface to the jump.

Wilson said if volunteers continue to show up to work and the weather remains favorable, jumpers could be on the hill by Oct. 15.

"Right now, we are just trying to get the job done," Wilson said. "I don't want to say it will be done on a specific date and have to start worrying about meeting a deadline."

The next work session is at 9 a.m. Saturday. There also will be a session Sunday.

Wilson said he always is looking for more volunteers and anyone interested in helping out should just show up at Howelsen Hill.

Wilson said some volunteers come early and stay late, but he also understands that some have only a few hours to dedicate to the project, which is fine. He said the club is thankful for any help it can get.

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

or e-mail jrussell@steamboatpilot.com

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