Steamboat Springs Generations of young ski jumpers have flocked to Howelsen Hill for the Hitchens Brothers' Wednesday Night Jump Series.
The jumping tradition continues Wednesday night when the long-running series takes flight with the first competition of the 2009 season. Jumping will begin at 6 p.m. on the K-18 jump hill. Competition on the K-25 and K-38 hills will follow.
The series consists of four nights. The other competition nights are scheduled for Jan. 28, Feb. 25 and March 11.
"It's a really festive atmosphere that provides an opportunity for young jumpers in our community to come out and compete and grow in the sport," series organizer Hans Berend said. "A lot of these young athletes will compete in other events this winter, but for the younger kids this event is a big deal. It's their chance to get out and compete - and that makes it a fun part of growing up in Steamboat Springs."
Training for each event begins at 4 p.m. and is followed by registration at 4:45 p.m. and a pizza party complete with cookies and soda. At 6 p.m., the youngest jumpers head out to the K-18 for the start of the event.
The evening will come to a close with an awards ceremony from 8 to 8:30 p.m.
Competitors will be placed in divisions based on skier type (Alpine or Nordic), gender and age. Age class determines which hill a jumper will compete on. There are two open age classes to accommodate beginners. Jumpers also can choose to bump up a class, but most stay on the same hill once the competition has begun.
Athletes between ages 7 and 9 will compete on the K-18 hill. There also is an open K-18 class, which allows beginning jumpers up to age 13 to compete on the smaller hill. The K-25 hill will be reserved for jumpers between ages 10 and 11. Once again, there is an open class that allows older jumpers (up to age 13) to compete.
The 12- and 13-year-old jumpers will compete on the K-38 hill.