Gabby Armstrong, center, of the Eastern Division, won the girls Nordic combined event at this week's 2014 Junior National Championships. She shares the podium with Central's Cara Larson, left, who finished second, and Steamboat Springs' Logan Sankey, who finished third.

Rosanne Iverson/courtesy

Gabby Armstrong, center, of the Eastern Division, won the girls Nordic combined event at this week's 2014 Junior National Championships. She shares the podium with Central's Cara Larson, left, who finished second, and Steamboat Springs' Logan Sankey, who finished third.

Future looks bright as Steamboat girls step into jumping, Nordic combined spotlight

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— After losing three of the team’s top athletes from a year ago, the girls from the Rocky Mountain Division climbed to the top of the results at the 2014 Junior National Ski Jumping and Nordic Combined Championships in Anchorage, Alaska, earlier this week.

Steamboat’s Logan Sankey, an Alpine skier who trains part-time with the Nordic program, stepped into the spotlight in the individual special jumping and Nordic combined events Sunday. She placed third in the special jumping events held at the Karl Eid jump complex near Anchorage. Central Division skier Cara Larson won the event and was followed by teammate Mollie Immens in second.

The Nordic combined title went to Eastern Division skier Gabby Armstrong, who skied away with the title. Larson was second after being more than a minute off the pace, and Sankey was third two minutes behind the winner. Sankey just picked up cross-country skiing for the championships.

Steamboat Springs Melissa Requist joined forces with Armstrong to win the Nordic combined team event. The mixed team of Sophia Nester and Larson came in second just three seconds back, and Steamboat’s Esther DelliQuadri and Sankey finished third 20 seconds off the pace.

Todd Wilson, the Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club Nordic program director, said he is encouraged by the results of his younger skiers and sees a bright future ahead.

"One-third of my 115 athletes in my program is made of girls," Wilson said. "Most of them are younger, but these girls are great role models, and I'm really proud of what they accomplished."

Last week, the International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach said he would like to see a women's event in Nordic combined. Wilson isn't sure when women's Nordic combined would be considered for the Games but thinks that the Winter Sports Club's current numbers put it in a good position to become a leader in the sport.

"Most of our girls are in the younger programs right now," Wilson said. "But I think we will be in a good position when women's Nordic combined becomes an Olympic sport. I think it's great news."

Wilson thinks the chance to compete in the Olympics or in a World Cup format would give his female athletes a reason to stick with the sport and something to shoot for in the future.

To reach John F. Russell, call 970-871-4209, email jrussell@SteamboatToday.com or follow him on Twitter @Framp1966

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