Steamboat Springs There are times at a ski meet when it's tough to delineate which skier belongs to which team, as wading through the bib number and all-too-common suits can prove a difficult task.
But this week in Ishpeming, Mich., the members of the Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club J-2 Junior Olympic Nordic and jumping team won't have that problem.
Seven team members - Michael Ward, Aleck Gantick, Erik Lynch, Jake Barker, Austin Reed, Ben Berend and Cliff Field - decided to shave their heads. Team member Mary O'Connell agreed to trim her hair.
In what started out as a dare and progressed to action, the eight skiers visited Mountain Cuts on Saturday afternoon to get the work done. Thanks to Mountain Cuts co-owner Barkley Robinson, who comped all the new 'dos, it shouldn't be tough to tell who is, in fact, from Steamboat.
"They started saying we should do it," coach Kerry Lynch said. "It started as chatter in the locker room."
What won't be chatter, however, will be the skiing.
The competition will bring the top 15-and-under skiers from around the country to Michigan, to see who are the best young Nordic and ski jumpers around.
Lynch said this year, the bulls-eye will be on Steamboat.
"They've been gunning for us since last year," Lynch said. "We should do well. No guarantees, but we should be the team to beat."
Last year in Park City, Utah, Steamboat came home as the national champions in team jumping, had an individual jumping champion in Field and won the team Nordic combined.
This year, Field, Gantick and Lynch return from the team that came home champions in team jumping.
Although Lynch was confident, he said the event's K-60 jump will put them at a disadvantage since most of their training has been on the K-68 at Howelsen Hill.
"It brings the field closer," Lynch said. "We're expecting a real competition up there."
The team flies to Michigan on Monday. The competition runs from Thursday to Saturday.