Local jumpers shine at Howelsen


— The ski jumps at Howelsen Hill still are in great shape, but the season is winding down for the Nordic combined athletes at the Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club.

The competitive season came to a close last weekend for the younger jumpers (J2 and under) during the Western Regional Championships, which were held at Howelsen Hill.

This weekend, six of the club's older jumpers will travel to Park City, Utah, for the U.S. National Ski Jumping and Nordic Combined Championships. It's the first time in more than five years the event has not taken place in Steamboat Springs.

"We hosted that event for five years in a row," said Gary Crawford, a coach for the Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club. "The event is supposed to rotate. We will miss it, but it's nice to get a break."

Crawford expects the Winter Sports Club to be represented by six top athletes - Brett Denney, Taylor Fletcher, Logan Oxford, Cliff Field, Davis Miller and Johnny Spillane. Crawford said several of the nation's top prospects, including Alex Miller, Alex Glueck and Bryan Fletcher, still are competing abroad and will not compete in the U.S. Nationals. Sam Chovan is recovering from an injury and also is unable to compete.

Steamboat's younger athletes finished their season at home last weekend in the Western Regional Championships. The championships included competitions on the HS20, HS28, HS42 and HS75 jumps and in Nordic combined.

Steamboat's Koby Vargas led the Winter Sports Club by winning the J5 class on the HS20 hill. He was followed by Rocky Mountain Division teammates Finn O'Connell in second and Jackson Ernst in third. Kathleen O'Connell topped the girls J5 class, followed by Dominique Katthain in second and Anna Belinski in third. Intermountain Division skier Stephen Schumann won the J6 division. Steamboat's Elijah Vargas was second.

Steamboat's Nicholas Madden won the J4 boys class on the HS28 jump. Teammates Jaspar Good and Koby Vargas were second and third, respectively. Manon Maurer, of the Intermountain Division, topped the J4 girls class on the HS28. Steamboat's Natalie Bohlmann placed second, and Lena Barker was third.

Intermountain Division jumper Holli Chapton won the open class, with Hayden Joy in second and Riley Heald in third. Joy and Heald are Rocky Mountain Division skiers.

Steamboat's success continued on the HS42 hill as Erik Lynch topped Intermountain Division skier Dillon Maurer for the win in the J3 boys class. Aleck Gantick was third.

Mary O'Connell topped the girls division on the HS42.

Steamboat's Cliff Field topped the field on the big hill (HS75) at the Western Regional Championships to win the J2 class. He topped Lynch, who finished second, and Intermountain skier Hyrum Bailey, who finished third. Fellow Intermountain skier Courtney Nelson won the J2 girls division by edging local favorite Mary O'Connell.

Steamboat dominated the Nordic combined divisions, with Madden winning the J4 boys title, Mary O'Connell winning the J3 girls title, Lynch winning the J3 boys title and Field winning the J2 boys title.


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