Jumpin’ and Jammin’ in Steamboat | ParkRecord.com

Jumpin’ and Jammin’ in Steamboat

Courtney Harkins, USSA

Over Fourth of July weekend, the U.S. Nordic Combined Ski Team drove from Park City to Steamboat Springs for the fifth annual Jumpin’ and Jammin’ Ski Jumping Competition at Howelsen Hill.

U.S. Ski Team athletes Taylor Fletcher, Bryan Fletcher, Adam Loomis, Ben Berend, Jasper Good, Michael Ward and their three coaches all headed over to Colorado for the event. But before the competition, the long weekend began as a camp. Young athletes from all over the country came out a few days before the Fourth of July for technique work, coaching advice, time trials and more with the elite skiers.

The official Jumpin’ and Jammin’ event included a 3-kilometer roller ski race right down the heart of Steamboat Springs, just before the parade began on the same street. After the race and parade, the athletes and spectators make their way to Howelsen Hill, a town ski area just a few blocks off Main Street. There, the athletes did a long-standing jumping comp that started with 40 athletes before cutting to 34, then 16 and then eight. The longest jumps from each round got to continue to the next. It was a Calcutta-style event, with the audience betting on who would win.

Each athlete was handicapped, which meant that the less-experienced athletes would start at a much higher start gate than the U.S. Ski Team members. It made it a close event and Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club athlete Koby Vargas took the win this year, beating out Stephen Schumann and Tucker Hoefler from Park City. Bryan Fletcher won the roller skiing race and Nordic combined.

"It’s an amazing event," said Fletcher, a Steamboat Springs-native. "Taylor and I get to come home and spend time with family and friends, but we’re not taking any time off of training."

The event finished with food trucks, a beer garden, music and more, with all money raised going back to the athletes.