Newby AVSC jumpers impress in Steamboat
In only their second week on new long-and-wide Fischer skis, the top three boys from the Aspen Valley Ski and Snowboard Club scored impressively at the USSA Junior Olympic Qualifier Nordic Combined and Jumping event at Steamboat Springs, Jan. 29-30.Clubs from all over the West including some competitors from Anchorage, Alaska, convened to jump all six “hills” at the ‘Boat’s famous Howelson Hill.
As a J-3 skier, Michael Ward lead AVSC on the K38 hill with jumps of 27 and 25.5 meters for sixth place. In just his first year jumping, fellow J-3 Terry Leitch jumped 20 and 21.5 meters. Competing in the J-4 division on the 28K hill, 10-year-old Fritz Carpenter jumped 18 and 20 meters. And 8-year-old J-5 skier Sevrin Mathys jumped on the K18 hill with jumps of 15 and 14 meters.”I was thrilled to see our boys feel so confident. To see them compete so well is a real boost to the program,” said AVSC nordic jumping coach Craig Ward.AVSC also tallied some impressive nordic combined results (skiing and jumping), thanks to Michael Ward and Carpenter. Following a staggered start called the Gundersen system, the competitors with the best jump results started first in the cross-country segment. The rest of the field followed using a handicapping system based on their points back from the leader. Then, as racers close the gap with the front skiers, the rank at the end of the race determines the final standings.
Ward skied the second fastest time in the cross-country portion, which raised him to fifth place overall. Carpenter also skied very well, putting up the third-fastest time in the J-4 class to finish fourth overall.The large teams from Park City and Steamboat were also very impressed with the Aspen team, especially given the very small number of jumps that the skiers had under their belts.
“It was a thrill for all the coaches to see the boys really step up and take the challenge,” said AVSC assistant coach Curt Carpenter. “We sure do look forward to returning.”Back in the 1950s, ’60s and early ’70s, the Aspen Ski Club (now AVSC) was strong in both cross-country skiing, ski jumping and the nordic combined event. John Kuehlman and Steve Riechel coached strong squads that competed at the very highest national levels. Teddy Thompson was a repeat cross country winner at junior nationals, and Stuart Thompson, Wayne Inman, Raoul Wille and the McIntyre brothers jumped and skied to many nordic combined titles.Now, after almost 32 years, nordic ski jumping is back. Building on a successful reintroduction last year that saw seven boys come out, this year AVSC has built a larger 25-meter jump near the base of Tiehack in conjunction with the Aspen Skiing Co.
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A ski season surrounded with uncertainty kicks off on Wednesday. The six inches of new snowfall Tuesday will allow opening of an additional 62 acres on Aspen Mountain, bringing opening-day total to about 160 acres.