Steamboat Springs The ski season is winding down in Steamboat Springs, but not before Howelsen Hill will host some of the best Nordic combined and special jumping athletes in the country.
"I think everyone here is excited about getting the chance to host the U.S. Nationals again," said Todd Wilson, Nordic program director for the Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club. "This is a great way to wrap up the season. We have the younger skiers this weekend as part of the Western Regional Championships and then we get all the top athletes in the country next weekend for the national championship."
The Western Regional Cham-
pionships will bring the top skiers from Aspen, Steamboat Springs and Park City together for a season-ending championship this weekend in Steamboat. Wilson said the event is great because it fills the void between the Junior Olympics and the end of the winter jumping season.
The regionals are scheduled to begin at 5:30 p.m. tonight under the lights at Howelsen. The competitors will begin on the K-18 hill before moving to the K-25 and K-38 hills. The competitions include J-3, J-4, J-5 and J-6 skiers ranging in age from 6 to 13 years old.
Saturday morning's competition will take place on the K-68 hill and will showcase skiers in the J-1 and J-2 age classes (ages 14 to 17). Jumping is scheduled to begin at 8:30 a.m., and will be followed by a Nordic combined ski race at 12:30 p.m.
"This weekend will be for the younger kids in the western region, and then next weekend we will open our big hills to the rest of the country."
Wilson said the Nature Valley U.S. Ski Jumping and Nordic Combined Championships will include the best Nordic combined skiers in the country - including the U.S. Ski Team's "A" and "B" squads. The top women's special jumpers also are expected to be on hand to compete for national titles.
However, Clint Jones and Alan Alborn have opted to attend a ski-flying event in Planica, Slovenia, at the same time as U.S. Nationals and will not be in Steamboat.
The U.S. Nationals are scheduled to begin March 23 with official training at 8 a.m. on the K-90 and K-114 hills. On March 24, the championships will open with jumping on the K-114 hill. The results from that event will be used to seed the Nordic combined cross-country race at 5 p.m. March 24. The championships will conclude March 25 with jumping on the K-90 hill.