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Flying high

Gold Cup tryouts take place this weekend

— Ready or not, the first ski jumping competition of the season is here.

Despite the fact that the status of Howelsen’s large hill is still in doubt, coach Chris Gilbertson said 40 special jumpers and Nordic Combined skiers will come to Howelsen Hill this weekend for the first of two Gold Cup tryouts.

“These young skiers will be competing for a chance to compete at the Gold Cup,” Gilbertson said.

And winning a Gold Cup means an outside chance of earning a trip to the Olympic Games.

The skiers, who will come from the Rocky Mountain, Intermountain and Eastern divisions, are scheduled to face off on the K-90 (normal hill) at Howelsen starting at 10 a.m. Saturday. There will be a special jumping portion and a Nordic Combined competition, but the athletes will not overlap. Gilbertson expects about six or seven members of the local club to take part.

That afternoon, the Nordic Combined skiers will compete in a 7.5-kilometer cross country event, which will also be held at Howelsen. The cross country race is tentatively set for 2 p.m.

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On Sunday, the special jumpers will return for the final event of the weekend, which is scheduled to take place at 10 a.m. on the

K-114 (the large hill) at Howelsen.

“Hopefully, the big hill will be ready to go,” Gilbertson said.

Gilbertson said there is plenty of snow on the landing hill, but the coach isn’t sure that the in-run area will be ready in time to host the event. The staff would rather have man-made snow on the in-run because it holds up better over the course of the season. The problem is that the snow would have to be carried to the top of the hill and placed by hand in the proper areas. Gilbertson isn’t sure he has enough manpower to get that chore completed in time.

“If we can’t get it ready in time we will just hold two events on the smaller (K-90) hill,” Gilbertson said.

The tryouts are the first of four special jumping and two Nordic Combined events that will

determine the field for the Dec. 19 Gold Cup competition that will take place in Steamboat Springs. To qualify to compete in the Gold Cup, a skier must place in the top 10 of the final results.

The winner of the actual Gold Cup event will earn a guaranteed spot on the Olympic team and a check for $10,000.

The final tryouts for the Gold Cup will be held at the site of the 2002 Olympic Games in Park City, Utah,

Dec. 8 and 9.