Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club athletes shine in junior championships qualifier

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— Members of the Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club shined during the second of three junior national qualifiers last weekend at Howelsen Hill.

For the club’s older athletes, the event was a chance to earn a spot at the Junior National Championships, to be held Feb. 27 through March 2 in Minnesota.

But the event also was a chance for many of Steamboat’s younger Nordic skiers and jumpers to get a taste of competition.

“It was cold, but it was a very good competition,” program director Todd Wilson said. “On Saturday, the top nine jumpers were 200 points or higher. It’s nice to see that kind of depth.”

Leading the way in the premiere events Saturday on the HS 75 ski jump was Steamboat Springs J2 skier Koby Vargas, who netted 236 points. He was followed by teammates Nicholas Madden and Jasper Good, who each scored 229.1 points and tied for second. Davis Petersen, a younger J-3 athlete who set a hill record during Friday night’s inaugural competition on Steamboat’s new HS 45 jump, placed fifth in Saturday’s competition.

On the HS 100 jump, it was once again Vargas leading the pack. He was followed by Spencer Knickerbocker in second and Good in third.

Natalie Bohlmann topped the girls J2 class and was followed by Margaret Lichtenfels in second and Kathleen O’Connell in third.

On the HS 100 jump, Steamboat’s Nita Englund led the girls and Bohlmann was second.

The events were part of a busy weekend of jumping at Howelsen Hill. The competitions, which were held Friday night and Saturday, drew 54 athletes from Steamboat Springs, Park City, Utah, and Summit County. They competed on jumps ranging from the HS 20 to the HS 100. There was also a cross-country races Saturday afternoon to determine the Nordic combined winners.

Athletes opened the events on the small hills Friday evening.

Petersen led the way for the J3 athletes by established the HS 45 record with an effort of 46.5 meters. Sophia Nestor from the Park City Club won the girls competition and was followed by Steamboat’s Esther Rose Delliquadri and Olivia Requist.

Steamboat swept the HS 20 competition with Niklas Malacinski winning the J5 boys event. Gunnar Gilbertson placed second and Erik Belshaw finished third. Tess Arnone was first in the J5 girl’s event, with Steamboat’s Tinsley Wilkinson in second.

Steamboat ski jumpers also took the top three spots in the HS 30 competition, with Bode Flanigan winning the J4 division followed by teammates Teague Burger in second and Lucas Rowse in third. Annika Belshaw topped the J4 girls class with Waverly Gebhardt in second and Madison Knutson in third.

The events came to a close Saturday afternoon with the Nordic combined cross-country race.

Good won the J2 Nordic combined race with a strong showing on the cross-country course. Madden was second and the jump leader, Vargas, came in third. Grant Andrews was fourth in that race.

Other Nordic combined winners included Arion Schweikert in the girls open class. Arnone won the J5 girls class and was followed by Wilkinson. Gilbertson topped the J5 boys race with Eric Belshaw in second and Malacinski in third.

The J4 girls race was won by Gebhardt with Annika Belshaw in second and Mae Thorp in third. Flanigan won the J4 boys race with Bennett Gamber in second and Burger in third.

There will be no rest for the Nordic athletes this week as the Wednesday Night Jump Series returns to Howelsen Hill. Registration for Wednesday’s race begins at 4:45 p.m. The first competitions will be on the small hills starting at 5 p.m.

The events are open to any athlete (not just members of the Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club) under the age of 13. The competitions are free and include a pizza dinner.

To reach John F. Russell, call 970-871-4209 or email jrussell@SteamboatToday.com

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