The Junior World Championships wrapped up last weekend in Oberwiesenthal, Germany. Over the course of eight days, USA Nordic athletes competed in nine competitions against the best U20 athletes in the world.
Leading the team were Andrew Urlaub (Eau Claire, WI) and Decker Dean (Steamboat Springs, CO) with their 18th and 21st place finishes in the sole individual ski jumping event. “I wasn’t quite able to show my best jumps in competition though I’m happy with the results,” said Urlaub. He continues, “I’m already looking forward to one more year of Junior World’s in Zakopane, Poland next season.” Erik Belshaw (Steamboat Springs, CO) stated his goal for Junior World Championships was a top 50 finish. Belshaw outdid that goal by a large margin jumping to 35th in the individual event. “Erik was definitely rookie of the year and has a bright future, I was impressed by his performance,” said Druzina.
The women’s ski jumping team missed the second round of competition in the individual event, all jumping outside of the top 30. Paige Jones led the team with her 43rd place finish, then showed a strong jump in the team event, boasting the 7th best jump of her round. “This high level competition is great experience for these young athletes. I’m excited that Paige, Jillian, and Annika have a few more years left to contend as juniors.” says Head Coach Blake Hughes.
The Nordic combined team boasted five top 30 finishes in the 10km individual event. Niklas Malacinski (Steamboat Springs, CO) and Evan Nichols (Lyme, NH) led the men’s team with 27th and 29th place finishes. Considering both athletes are only 16 years old, this was promising. Malacinski and Nichols were joined in the top 30 by all three Nordic combined women. Annika Malacinski (Steamboat Springs, CO) finished 24th with Tess Arnone (Steamboat Springs, CO) and Alexa Brabec (Steamboat Springs, CO) right on her heels in 25th and 28th place.
The Nordic combined team followed up their individual showing with a seventh place finish in the inaugural mixed team event- an event which combines two men and two women. “Seventh place in the mixed team event was definitely our best result, the entire team skied very strong,” said coach Tomas Matura. The four skiers started the race in eleventh place and fought up to seventh with strong cross country skiing. Matura acknowledged that with better jumps, the team is contending for a podium, “Jumping is for sure a big issue to focus on moving forward.”
These athletes will now either finish the last competitions in Europe or fly home to the US and compete at Junior Championships in Steamboat Springs, Colorado next week.