Local skiers jump into sunset

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Top showings from skiers including Trevor Wert, Cliff Field and Erik Lynch gave the Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club plenty to smile about during the final jumping events of the season at Howelsen Hill.

Wert, who posted a pair of top-10 finishes including a fifth in Sunday's Super Tour finals, capped off one of his best seasons Sunday.

"I was really, really happy with the way I skied last weekend," Wert said. "I've been competing with these guys for a long time, but my jumping has really improved the last couple of years."

During the weekend, Wert pushed the leaders with a ninth-place finish in Saturday's HS100 normal hill competition and a fifth in Sunday's Super Tour finale on the large hill at Howelsen.

The events drew four of the five members of this year's U.S. Olympic Special Jumping squad. Wert finished in front of two of them in Sunday's competition, and he will take a lot of confidence into next season.

"When you consider the field, this is probably one of my best results ever," Wert said. "I've beaten Tommy (Schwall) in the past, but this is the closest I've ever been to Clint (Jones)."

It's just the latest in a strong season for the Steamboat Springs special jumper. In Jan-uary, he finished sixth at the U.S. Nationals on the normal hill at Howelsen and also earned an invitation to the World Junior Championships based on his results.

"I'm not really sure why I jumped so well this season," Wert said. "I've been training a lot more and a lot harder. I guess that's made a difference."

Wert's top showing highlighted a strong weekend for the members of the Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club who competed in the Western Regional Championship.

The event, which was combined with the Super Tour, drew more than 130 jumpers from the United States and Canada to Steamboat Springs. The competition began Friday with the first events of the Western Regional. That event wrapped up Saturday.

On Friday night, the younger jumpers took part in competitions on the HS20.

Highlights included Nicholas Madden's first-place finish and Koby Vargas, the only J6 competitor in the event, in second place overall and first in his age class.

Steamboat's Jasper Good was third. Intermountain skier Josh Maurer was fourth, and Canadian Jean Charl Pretorlus was fifth.

Intermountain ski jumper Allie Rhoads won the girls competition. Steamboat's Kathleen O'Connell was second, and Margaret Lichtenfels was third.

Steamboat ski jumpers dominated the competition on the K28 hill, taking nine of the top 10 spots. Erik Lynch was first, Aleck Gantick was third, Ben Berend was fourth, Dylan Reed was fifth, Jake Barker was sixth, Nick Rossman was seventh, Madden was eighth, Keegan Weekslyn was ninth, and Zeb Tipton was 10th.

The only skier from outside of Steamboat to crack into the top 10 was second-place finisher Will Rhoads from the Intermountain Division.

Sarah Hendrickson of the Inter-mountain Division won the girls competition. Top Steam-boat finishers included Emily Hannah in second, Mary O'Connell in fourth, Madison Keeffe in fifth and Meg O'Connell in sixth.

But the Canadian team turned the tables on the field in the final event of the night.

Yukon de Leeuw won the boys event and helped Canada capture the top five positions in the event. The top American finisher was Tyler Smith in sixth, and the top Steamboat finisher was Field in seventh.

Intermountain skier Avery Ardovino led the girls competition with Steamboat's Hannah placing sixth, Mary O'Connell in seventh and Meg O'Connell in eighth.

On Saturday, the jumpers moved to the bigger hills at Howelsen Hill for the final day of the Western Regional.

Canadian Trevor Morrice proved he was the strongest jumper in the field by winning the HS75 with jumps of 72 and 74 meters. Steamboat's Taylor Fletcher placed second followed by Canadian Yukon de Leeuw.

Other top Steamboat finishers included Brett Denney in fifth and Charlie Stoddard in ninth. Canadian Nata de Leeuw led the girls competition, with Ardovino in second.

Morrice returned to the jump hills in the afternoon, when he overcame a slow track and tricky wind conditions to win the HS 100 competition. Intermountain ski jumper Logan Oxford was second, and U.S. Ski Team member Tommy Schwall finished third.

Steamboat's Davis Miller placed fourth, his brother Alex was fifth, and Clint Jones placed sixth. Wert was ninth and Fletch-er was 12th. Utah's Lindsay Van won the girls event followed by Intermountain teammate Allissa Johnson.

The regional event came to a close in the afternoon on the cross-country course. Athletes competed in 1-kilometer, 2-kilometer, 3-kilometer, 5-kilometer and 7.5-kilometer races based on their ages. All of the races were a mass start, which is different from the normal individual World Cup event where jumping results are used to seed the cross-country race. The Word Cup also has a mass start event, but in that contest the athletes ski first, and then jump for position.

"It was a little old school," organizer Todd Wilson said. "We wanted to have the mass start so that some of the kids who are stronger at cross-country wouldn't have to start at the back of the pack. We figured out the places after it was all over."

Steamboat skiers dominated the results with Alex Miller winning the 7.5-kilomter event. Charlie Stoddard raced to victory in the 5-kilometer event and Field won the 3-kilometer race. Steamboat's Lynch won the 2-kilomter race and Nicholas Madded won the 1-kilometer event.

Steamboat's Dominique Katt-hain won the 1-kilometer race, and Hannah topped the field the 2-kilometer race. Canadians Meaghan Reid topped the girl's 3-kilometer race, and Nata de Leeuw won the girls 5-kilometer race.

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