Aspen athlete jumps into spotlight |

Aspen athlete jumps into spotlight

Aspen Times Staff Report
Aspen, CO Colorado

STEAMBOAT SPRINGS, Colo. ” The Aspen Valley Ski and Snowboard Club’s Michael Ward is flying high.

Ward had his best day of competition ever in Saturday’s ski jumping and nordic combined Junior Olympic qualifiers at Steamboat Spring’s famed Howelsen Hill, recording two second-place finishes. The results helped him strengthen his case to represent the Rocky Mountain Division at the Junior Olympics this February in Ishpeming, Michigan.

“Michael’s got it locked down and knows what to do,” AVSC jumping and nordic combined coach Craig Ward said in a club news release. “Putting together back-to-back jumps of that distance was simply phenomenal.”

Ward’s jumps of 70.5 and 71 meters ” 233 feet ” on the HS 75 jump were bested only by Steamboat’s Cliff Field, last year’s Junior Olympic gold medalist.

By virtue of his jumping score of 234.2 ” Field’s was 242.3 ” Ward started with a 32-second deficit during the afternoon’s nordic race. He managed to close the gap to 10 seconds, but wound up finishing 22 seconds off Field’s winning pace.

“Last year he finished 11th at his first Junior Olympic competition, but this will be his first real chance to make it onto the podium,” Craig Ward said of his son.

AVSC teammate Terry Leitch finished 13th overall after recording jumps of 52.5 and 54.5 meters, and Steve Anderson was 20th.

The younger members of the team ” Riley Heald, Hayden Joy, John Heaphy, Andrew Tierney and Erika Heaphy ” all competed on smaller jumps. More many, it was their first time jumping at Steamboat.

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