PARK CITY, Utah (Jan. 14, 2019) – A team of 15 junior nordic combined and ski jumping athletes were named today by U.S. Ski & Snowboard and USA Nordic to compete in the FIS Nordic Junior World Championships Jan. 20-27 in Lahti, Finland. The event will feature the debut of women’s nordic combined as a medal event at Junior Worlds, proof of the quick progress the sport is making towards hopeful future Olympic inclusion.
The team includes four men and four women on the jumping team, with five men and two women qualifying for the nordic combined team.
Selection was made from a series of qualifying events, including international events as well as world rankings through January 13.
Jared Shumate (Park City, Utah) is the unchallenged leader of nordic combined team. Shumate started the season with sixth and seventh places in the Steamboat Springs Continental Cup, both personal bests.
“I expect that he will fight for the top 10 in both individual competitions,” says USA Nordic coach Tomas Matura
The rest of the nordic combined athletes will be competing in their first ever Junior World Championships. It’s a young team which will grow from the experience of competing on the world stage.
Tess Arnone (Steamboat Springs, Colo.) competed in last year’s exhibition event in Kandersteg, Switzerland. She will be looking to build on her 29th place last year and gain valuable experience as the lone U.S. entrant in the first women’s medal event. Arnone is currently ranked 10th in the Continental Cup standings – showing a very positive start to her season. Also qualifying is Annika Malacinski (Steamboat Springs, Colo.) who had progressed quickly as a nordic combined skier after taking up jumping less than two years ago.
The women’s ski jumping team has shown great progress over the past year. The squad is young with some great up-and-coming talent. All four of the women’s team members qualified with their results at the Continental Cup level earlier this winter.
“Last winter we had two athletes in the top 30 and our highest finish since 2013, Logan Sankey at 20th. This year we have the potential to see all of these girls finish in the top 30,” said USA Nordic coach Blake Hughes.
Annika Belshaw (Steamboat Springs, Colo.) and Paige Jones (Park City, Utah) enter the new year ranked 10th and 13th respectively in the FIS Cup standings.
Andrew Urlaub (Eau Claire, Wis.), Decker Dean (Steamboat Springs, Colo.) and Greyson Scharffs (Park City, Utah) are all members of the USA Nordic Junior National Team, which was formed for the first time this past summer. They have progressed extremely well. Canden Wilkinson, the final member of the team recently moved away from nordic combined to specialize in jumping.
“He surprised us all with securing his spot for the Junior Worlds,” says USA Nordic coach Jan Druzina. “Our goal this season is to show consistency and good jumps in the competitions. A Top 30 finish is realistic, but we know surprises are always a possibility.”
Dean, Urlaub, and Scharffs are all coming off great finishes at the Park City, Utah FIS Cups. This should give them confidence as they head towards Lahti.
The Junior World Championships will be held on the same venue that was used for the 2017 Nordic World Championships. The first event for Nordic combined will come on January 23 with jumping beginning on January 24.
2019 FIS NORDIC JUNIOR WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP TEAM
Men’s Nordic Combined Team
Bennett Gamber, Steamboat Springs, Colo., Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club
Beckett Ledger, Lake Placid, N.Y., New York Ski Education Foundation
Niklas Malacinski, Steamboat Springs, Colo., Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club
Evan Nicholas, Lyme, N.H., Ford K. Sayre Memorial Ski Council
Jared Shumate, Park City, Utah, Park City Ski and Snowboard
Women’s Nordic Combined Team
Tess Arnone, Steamboat Springs, Colo., Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club
Annika Malacinski, Steamboat Springs, Colo., Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club
Men’s Ski Jumping Team
Decker Dean, 18, Steamboat Springs, Colo., Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club
Greyson Scharffs, 17, Park City, Utah, Park City Ski and Snowboard
Andrew Urlaub, 17, Eau Claire, Wis., Flying Eagles Ski Club
Canden Wilkinson, 16, Steamboat Springs, Colo., Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club
Women’s Ski Jumping Team,
Annika Belshaw, 16, Steamboat Springs, Colo, Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club
Paige Jones, 16, Park City, Utah, Park City Ski and Snowboard
Anna Hoffmann, 18, Madison, Wis., Blackhawk Ski Club
Samantha Macuga, 17, Park City, Utah, Park City Ski and Snowboard