AVSC skiers springing into action in Steamboat | AspenTimes.com

AVSC skiers springing into action in Steamboat

Aspen Valley Ski and Snowboard Club jumper Michael Ward flies through the air in Steamboat Springs last weekend. (Courtesy Craig Ward)

Signs that winter is near abound. Snow has begun to blanket the area’s slopes. The 52nd annual ski swap takes place this weekend at Aspen High School. And, the Aspen Valley Ski and Snowboard School’s ski jumpers are already taking their first leaps.The two oldest members of AVSC’s team – 14-year-old Terry Leitch and 13-year-old Michael Ward – attended an invite-only training camp last weekend at Steamboat. There, the two took turns with other young athletes from the region, as well as members of the U.S. Nordic Combined Team on a new 68-meter plastic jump. Some flew in excess of 70 meters through the warm air.

Although Steamboat boasts a longstanding jumping tradition, the plastic mats – manufactured for year-round use – and a watering system weren’t installed until last year. “Steamboat is the only other [Rocky Mountain Division] club that has an active ski jumping program,” AVSC jumping coach Craig Ward said in a club news release. “It is terrific that they are so supportive of our young program and our young athletes.”Last season – the third for each in the program – Leitch and Michael Ward logged just eight jumps each on such a large hill. Both athletes will move up to the J2 class, which is comprised of 14- and 15-year-olds this season and thus, were eager to take as many practice runs as possible.

Time is always of the essence for Aspen’s ski jumpers, assistant coach Kurt Carpenter told The Aspen Times in January. Jumpers for Steamboat Springs and Winter Park, which benefit from top-flight training facilities, have logged 400 jumps each. AVSC skiers are lucky if they have 50.AVSC athletes log most of their jumps on a temporary 25-meter jump on skier’s left of Eagle Hill on Buttermilk. The facility will see slight improvements this year, when a bulldozer flattens the outrun. Man-made snow also will help shape the jump.

Leitch and Ward were grateful for the opportunity afforded to them by Steamboat. “We learned a lot in a short three-day period,” Michael Ward added. “We have a lot to practice.””It was a blast. I’ve been waiting for this all summer,” Leitch said. “Now I can’t wait for the snow to fall.”

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