Junior World Championships come to Utah
The event returns to America for the first time in 30 years
For the first time since 1986, the best Junior ski jumpers, Nordic combined athletes and cross-country skiers in the world will congregate on American soil for the USANA FIS Nordic Junior and U23 World Ski Championships.
Not just that, but it’ll be taking place at the Olympic venues — Utah Olympic Park and Soldier Hollow — that reside in Summit and Wasatch Counties.
“This is a real opportunity for not only the Nordic community, but for the general public,” said Bill Stenquist, the Chairman for the Local Organizing Committee for the event. “This is a chance to come down and either come to Soldier Hollow or go to Utah Olympic Park — the event is free — and just watch some amazing talent.”
To put things into perspective of just how long it’s been, the last time this event was held in America, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off just hit movie theaters. Mike Tyson won his first boxing title then and snowboarding star Shaun White was just born. In other words, it’s been a long, long time.
As of Friday morning, Stenquist and company are expecting over 500 athletes from 33 participating nations. There were even more countries hoping to participate, but due to travel costs running too high for some of their budgets, a few were forced to drop out.
Even so, the event is expected to be huge. Not just from a competition standpoint, but also in terms of the masses of people that will be present. In addition to the 500-plus competitors, there will be roughly 300 additional bodies between support personnel and FIS officials, as well as another 300 or so volunteers that will help make the event run smoothly.
“It’s upwards of 1,000 people,” Stenquist said. “That doesn’t include how many spectators show up. People will come out and see this because we haven’t had an event like this since the Olympics, at least at Soldier Hollow.”
What Stenquist said is true: This is the biggest international event of this caliber that has been held at Soldier Hollow since 2002. Luckily, the venue is seeing its best conditions probably since the most-famous international competition of all time took place in Utah.
“I’ve been a part of the Olympics and been around forever, I would say that Soldier Hollow looks better now in terms of the amount of snow, the grooming, the physical setup of the venue,” Stenquist said. “The only time it looked better was during the Olympics. We have so much snow over there. That athletes are going to be in for a real treat.”
One of the challenges Stenquist and company have to deal with, on top of accommodating over 1,000 people for an entire week, is the simple task of transporting all the athletes. All of them will fly into Salt Lake International Airport, where they will then need to be transported to either the Hyatt Place Hotel in Park City for the ski jumpers or the Zermatt Resort in Midway for the Nordic combined and cross-country skiers.
Not only are they moving masses of athletes, coaches and support groups, but also the hundreds of skis and equipment that come with them.
“We have cargo trucks going back and forth,” Stenquist said. “The transportation component [can be difficult]. We wanted all the athletes to stay together.”
Even with some of the challenges that arise, Stenquist and company are prepared and confident everything will run smoothly. Couple that with the beautiful weather on the forecast for the next week, and Stenquist believes this is a can’t-miss event for anyone interested.
“If you are interested in Nordic skiing at all or ski jumping, you just need to show up,” Stenquist reiterated. “This is literally a chance to, if you’re an adult or if you want to bring your family, to come and go, ‘Wow.’ You, as a spectator, can get up close and personal with the athletes and see all of this stuff. It just doesn’t happen often.”
The first events of the week are scheduled to start at 10 a.m. on Monday morning. They will run throughout the week, ending on Sunday with the final medals ceremony at 6:30 p.m.
The Youth Sports Alliance will host a team scramble golf tournament on June 3 at Victory Ranch in hopes of raising funds for its scholarships and youth programs.