Nordic Junior Nationals coming to Park City, Midway |

Nordic Junior Nationals coming to Park City, Midway

The Intermountain Division Nordic combined and Ski Jumping team poses for a photo at the base of the ski jumps at the Utah Olympic Park. Eleven athletes from PCSS qualified for the event.

Park City Ski and Snowboard and USA Nordic are set to host the 2019 USA Nordic Junior Championships at the Utah Olympic Park and Soldier Hollow from Thursday through Saturday of this week.

In the competition, athletes from across North America will compete in ski jumping and Nordic combined for a shot at the junior national championship title.

Those who earn top positions often are named to junior national teams, which creates additional opportunities in competition and training.

"This is a major stepping stone in the pipeline for a lot of athletes who don't have the luxury to live near a venue like this," said Alan Alborn, athletic director at USA Nordic and PCSS head coach. "A lot of the athletes live in the Midwest with smaller venues and clubs … so they are trying to get their foot in the door to where they are invited to more junior national team events and national team events to train with their mentors and heroes, then make their way up the pipeline."

The athletes range in age from 12 years old, like local Nordic Combined competitor Root Roepke, up to 20, though Park City's most experienced athlete is likely ski jumper Samantha Macuga, who is 18.

She competed in the team trials at the Utah Olympic Park before the 2018 Winter Olympics last season, and recently took 11th at the world junior ski jumping championships in Lahti, Finland, on Jan. 26.

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Competitions are free to watch. They will start on Thursday with ski jumping at the Utah Olympic Park from 9 a.m. to noon, and Nordic combined's cross-country leg from 3-5 p.m. at Soldier Hollow.

The events will follow a similar schedule on Friday, with Nordic combined starting at 4 p.m. at Soldier Hollow.

The events will conclude with final competition jumps on Saturday at the UOP from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.

"(Spectators) are welcome to come right up to the fence line and watch the athletes fly down the hill," Alborn said of the events at the UOP. "In some cases we may invite (spectators) to the side of the hill to watch the athletes up close."

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