Jean Charl Pretorious flies Tuesday during the National Nordic Foundation Calcutta ski jumping event at Howelsen Hill. The event was the first of three days of jumping competitions in Steamboat Springs.

Photo by Joel Reichenberger

Jean Charl Pretorious flies Tuesday during the National Nordic Foundation Calcutta ski jumping event at Howelsen Hill. The event was the first of three days of jumping competitions in Steamboat Springs.

Jumping week in Steamboat kicks off with focus on future

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World Championships silver medalist Justin Reiter speaks Tuesday at a celebration for medalists in those events. He had glowing praise for Steamboat Springs and the Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club. "Howelsen is the biggest little mountain in the world," he said.

— Tuesday evening’s Ski Jumping Calcutta fundraiser for the National Nordic Foundation began at Howelsen Hill by celebrating what already had happened.

Nine athletes with ties to Steamboat Springs were honored for what was a huge medal haul from last winter’s World Championships competitions.

That included the “powerhouse Nordic combined” team, Todd Lodwick, Billy Demong, Bryan Fletcher and Taylor Fletcher, who earned bronze in the team event at the World Championships.

It also included Arielle Gold, world champion in the snowboard half-pipe; Justin Reiter, a silver medalist in snowboarding’s parallel slalom at the World Championships; and Vic Wild, who finished third in men’s parallel giant slalom; Patrick Deneen, who placed third in a pair of World Champion moguls events; and Madi McKinstry, who got third place in the Telemark Junior World Championships.

Tuesday’s event didn’t dwell long on the past, however, and even as the on-hand athletes accepted the congratulations of the crowd, conversations were looking ahead to February’s Olympic Games in Sochi, Russia.

“It was exciting. I got a little nervous,” Gold said. “It was really cool, awesome to be a part of that.”

There were about 250 people gathered at the base of Howelsen Hill for the event. Gold said she couldn’t help but wonder what the crowd would look like if all goes as she dreams and she’s able to return in March with a different kind of gold medal.

“That’s the plan,” she said. “I’ll be a little more nervous, but I’ll be more excited, too.”

The ceremony was followed up by the jumping, and that too had an eye firmly focused on the future. Athletes just breaking into big competitions were able to compete with the biggest names in the sport, those four from the bronze-medal World Championships squad.

The goal of the evening wasn’t just to celebrate recent accomplishments, and it wasn’t even simply to look ahead to Sochi. The jumping event was about building World Championship and Olympic success for four, eight, even 12 years.

The event was the first in a busy couple of days for local ski jumpers. They return to the hill at 9 a.m. Wednesday for the first stage of competition in the Ski Jumping Extravaganza, then wrap up that competition Thursday with a 9:30 a.m. race on Lincoln Avenue and an 11 a.m. jumping competition.

To reach Joel Reichenberger, call 970-871-4253 or email jreichenberger@SteamboatToday.com

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