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Weather delays ski jumping qualifier

Junior Olympic event takes place on smaller hills

— Last weekend's warm weather took its toll on the 2009 Larry Johnson Memorial at Howelsen Hill, but Steamboat Springs athletes shined on the smaller jumps.

The Junior Olympic qualifier was held Friday and Saturday. Organizers were forced to postpone jumping events on the larger HS75 and HS100 hills - HS, meaning hill-size, is a measurement of jump size - because of the warm temperatures and steady stream of wet snow that made the jumps unsafe for competition. The older age divisions are expected to return to Howelsen on Saturday to complete last week's events. Competition on the HS75 kicks things off at 10:30 a.m. The HS100 will follow, and the Nordic combined cross-country races are scheduled for 2 p.m.

But not even the warm conditions could stop Steamboat Springs' Nicholas Madden from topping the field on the HS42 at the Junior Olympic Qualifier, with jumps of 37.5 and 37 meters. His efforts earned him 214.6 points - enough to edge teammate Ben Berend in the final results of the J3 boy's class. Berend was second with 212.1 points and Steamboat's Jasper Good was third with 203.7 points.

Steamboat's Madison Keeffe also won the J3 girl's class by slipping past a strong contingent from the National Sports Federation in Park City, Utah. Utah's Sabina Gasienica was second, and her Intermountain Division teammate Manon Maurer was third. Steamboat finishers included Kathleen O'Connell in fifth and Natalie Bohlmann in sixth.

"Our skiers had a great weekend, but the weather forced us to make a few changes," said Todd Wilson, Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club Nordic director. "We couldn't use the big hills, but hopefully we will get those guys back on the hill this weekend."

Meanwhile, the athletes from Steamboat Springs flexed their muscles on the smaller hills.

Koby Vargas led the pack in the HS28. Patrick Gasienica was second and Adam Snyder was third. Both jumpers were from the National Sports Federation in Utah.

Natalie Bohlmann was first in the J4 girls division. Teammate O'Connell was second and Margaret Lichtenfels finished third. Steamboat jumpers collected seven of the top eight spots in that division.

Steamboat was also strong on the smaller HS20, with Decker Dean leading the way to a 1-2-3-4 Steamboat finish in the J5 boys division. Davis Petersen was second, Noel Keeffe was third, and Elijah Vargas was fourth. Wyatt Gebhardt was seventh, Bastion Elkins was eighth, Jimmy Colfer was ninth, and Bryan Gilbertson was 10th.

Steamboat's Tatum Burger topped the J5 girls class with teammates Lauren Requist in second, Maggie Morton in third and Olivia Requist in fourth.

Murphy Bohlmann led the J6 boy's class, followed by teammates Teague Burger in second, Bennett Gamber was third and Dane Freckleton was fourth.

Steamboat skiers also dominated the Nordic combined classes with Teague Burger winning the J6 boys, Tatum Burger winning the J5 girls, Noel Keeffe winning the J5 boys, O'Connell winning J4 girls, Vargas winning the J4boys and Berend taking the title in the J3 boys class. Utah's Dani Poirier won the J3 girls division.

The Steamboat event is the second of three Junior Olympic qualifiers in the region this year. The first was held in Park City, Utah, from Jan. 9 to 10, and the last one will also be held at the site of the 2002 Olympic Games, Feb. 13 and 14. Steamboat's event, which was scheduled for last weekend, has been stretched over two weekends.

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