Park City at Play

Catch All the Action of Junior Nordic’s Big Show This Winter

Park City and the Heber Valley play host to one of ski jumping and cross country skiing’s most important events.

By Bari Nan Cohen December 14, 2016 Published in the Winter/Spring 2017 issue of Park City Magazine

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Skate skiing is among the events scheduled as part of the 2017 FIS Nordic Junior World Championships  and FIS U23 World Cross Country Championships.

Image: Ross Downard

Whether you’re already a fan of nordic sports or you’ve only seen them on TV during the Olympics, there’s a can’t-miss opportunity to witness top junior athletes in cross country skiing, ski jumping, and nordic combined as they gather at Park City’s Utah Olympic Park (3419 Olympic Pkwy, 435.658.4200) and Midway’s Soldier Hollow (2002 Soldier Hollow Lane, Midway, 435.654.2002) to compete in the 2017 FIS Nordic Junior World Championships and FIS World U23 World Cross Country Championships (2017 WJSC), January 30 to February 5.

It’s a big deal for Park City and the Heber Valley—and for the 1000+ athletes and coaches who will take part. Alborn, who competed in nordic ski jumping at the 2002 Olympic Winter Games, says the WJSC was formative for him. “Frankly, it was my stepping stone to the next level in my athletic career,” he says. “What invokes the most passion in me is the ability to give back to what was given to me. Without host facilities, coaches, programs, spectators, families, friends, sponsors, and a team, I would not have experienced all that I did. I want to pay it forward.”

And doing so as a host coach in what he calls the “premier legacy program in the world” means showing off Utah Olympic Park (UOP) and Soldier Hollow (SoHo), both of which offer programs for athletes of all ages and abilities, year-round. While both venues regularly host competitions, the 2017 WJSC will give domestic spectators a chance to see nordic competition closer resembling those held in Europe, where nordic athletes are treated like rock stars.

All 2017 WJSC events are free and open to the public, making it easy to take part in the excitement. At UOP, you can watch athletes fly off the HS 100 jump, then travel out to SoHo in Midway to see many of the same athletes compete in cross country races for nordic combined titles. SoHo is also the venue for all the cross country competitions, ranging from sprints to long-distance races. The staff at these venues are pros at hosting large-scale events, meaning there will be plenty of signs directing spectators to the observation areas at each location.

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Athletes from 40 countries will soar off the jumps at Utah Olympic Park as part of the Junior Worlds ski jumping and nordic combined competitions. Ben Loomis, from Eau Claire, Wisconsin (pictured here), will likely be among the US athletes to watch.

Image: U.S. Ski Team

Though the 2017 WJSC athlete roster was undetermined as of press time (team selections will be announced on December 30), a few Park City Nordic Ski Club skiers and jumpers to keep an eye out for include Samantha Macuga, Kailey Bickner, Sophia Nester, and the Lock brothers—Jake and Robert—in ski jumping; Jared Shumate, Tucker Hoefler, and Stephen Schumann in the nordic combined; and Leah Lange in the cross country events.     

“This will be the largest nordic competition in Utah since the 2002 Olympics,” notes Colin Hilton, Utah Olympic Legacy Foundation president and CEO. “The atmosphere and entertainment for spectators will make every event truly the place to be, for both locals and out-of-town guests.”


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