Steamboat skiers shine at 2014 Junior National Ski Jumping and Nordic Combined Championships
February 25, 2014
Steamboat Springs — From the top of the Karl Eid K-64 jump just outside of Anchorage, Alaska, the athletes who came in search of titles at the 2014 Junior National Ski Jumping and Nordic Combined Championships this week discovered they could see more than just top results.
The athletes were treated to several days of clear mountain sky, allowing for breathtaking views that included Mount McKinley, the Gulf of Alaska and the wintry terrain that surrounds Anchorage.
The athletes also were treated to a glimpse of the level of talent produced by the Alaska, Rocky Mountain, Intermountain, Eastern and Central divisions during individual ski jumping, individual Nordic combined and team events, which took place during the weekend.
Steamboat's Grant Andrews highlighted the weekend with a second-place finish in the individual Nordic combined race and a fifth-place showing in special jumping held Sunday.
Teammate Finn O'Connell was third in the Nordic combined event and fourth in jumping. Other top local finishes included a fifth in Nordic combined and 10th in jumping from Koby Vargas. Noel Keeffe placed eighth in Nordic combined, with teammates Peter Rosenthal placing 10th and Decker Dean placing 12th.
Other jumping results included Dean in eighth, Davis Petersen in 13th and Peter Rosenthal in 17th in jumping. Keeffe jumped to 21st, Elijah Vargas was 22nd and Wyatt Gebhardt was 29th
Central Division skier Ben Loomis topped the Nordic combined results and special jumping results at the championships.
"We knew we had a strong young team," said Todd Wilson, Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club Nordic program director. "It used to be that we dominated the Nordic combined events, but things have gotten more competitive. It was great to dominate, but as a coach, we want to be challenged. We want other teams to push our athletes, and it's that push that will make us better."
On Monday, the athletes returned to the jump hill and competed in the team event.
The Rocky Mountain Division placed second to the Central Division in the team jump event thanks to the efforts of O'Connell, Koby Vargas, Andrews and Dean.
The Nordic combined two-man team event came down to a four-way sprint to the finish, with the Intermountain Division taking first, followed by a team from the Eastern Division just six seconds back in second. The Central Division placed third just eight seconds off the pace, and the Rocky Mountain Division team of Andrews and O'Connell finished fourth just 10 seconds behind the winners. Teams from the Rocky Mountain Division also captured fifth (Koby Vargas and Keeffe), sixth (Petersen and Gebhardt) and seventh (Rosenthal and Dean).
"The results show that our division has the most depth," Wilson said. "The really good news is that these skiers are young, and they should all get another shot next year."
Wilson also was happy with the level of talent he saw this week in Anchorage, and he thinks that also says something about the future of the sport in the United States and Steamboat Springs.