Steamboat Springs Jumpin’ and Jammin’ provides skiers with fun, competitive July 4 atmosphere |

Steamboat Springs Jumpin’ and Jammin’ provides skiers with fun, competitive July 4 atmosphere

STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — Summer and skiing are rarely used in the same sentence, but as tradition demands, ski jumping will return to Howelsen Hill for Fourth of July festivities in Steamboat Springs.

The Nordic combined event is modified for warm weather by using skis with wheels for the cross-country portion and spraying water on the turf for the jumping competition. Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club members said the event is one of the most enjoyable of the year because of the unique circumstances.

“It’s probably my favorite event of the year,” said Erik Belshaw, a junior development team member. “It’s really fun, and there’s not a lot of pressure. It’s fun because a lot of people come, and you get to hang out with your friends from other divisions.”

Annika Malacinski, 18, competed on the smaller jump in her first appearance at Jumpin’ and Jammin’ but, this year, will take on the larger jump.

“It’s mostly a fun event, but it definitely gets you familiar with the competition world and everything,” she said. “It’s fun, but there’s still competition with it. I think it’s an awesome event.”

Today’s event follows an unusual elimination style of scoring. Style isn’t a factor, as the longest jumps advance, with the field being hacked in half following each round.

The jumping starts at noon today with the top 16 competitors scheduled to take flight at 1:50 p.m., the top eight at 2:30 p.m. and the final four at 2:50 p.m.

Jumpin’ and Jammin’ is unique in the way that 14-year-old Belshaw and 16-year-old Gunnar Gilbertson get to compete with high-level athletes.

“When I first did it, I was 13 or something, and I was competing against National Team guys at the time, like Bill DeMong and Todd Lodwick,” Gilbertson said. “And it evens it out the way it’s set up, so it’s really interesting in the sense that you can compete against people you normally wouldn’t.”

Younger athletes will take off at a higher starting gate, giving every jumper the chance to advance.

“We’ll adjust as we go, so each category of jumpers, if they’re not going far enough to please the crowd, we’ll give them an extra bar start or two,” Nordic combined coach Karl Denney said. “We calibrate as we go so everybody has the opportunity to jump down toward the bottom of the jump. That speed is just the equalizer.”

The Nordic combined competition began Wednesday, with jumping at 9 a.m. Jump results determine starting positions in the cross-country portion of the race, which kicks off 9:15 a.m. today.

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