It’s an Olympic year and Flying Eagles skiers are looking ahead in anticipation — a few even to February’s Olympic Games in South Korea.
The junior club will host its annual tournament at the Mt. Washington ski complex January 7, and that will be followed by the annual international event at Silver Mine Hill January 19-20.
Meanwhile, ski jumper Nick Mattoon and Nordic Combined skiers Adam and Ben Loomis are seeking berths on the U.S. Team to compete at Winter Olympic Games from Feb. 9-25 in PyeongChang, South Korea.
At the present time, Nick Mattoon is one of six U.S. Ski Team jumpers vying for a spot on the U.S. Team that won’t be decided until mid-January following various qualifying events, including one Dec. 30-31 at Park City, Utah, in which the winner will automatically qualify.
The major members of the team have been Will Rhoads, Park City; and Mike Glasder and Kevin Bickner, Norge Club of Chicago; while Casey Larson, Chicago; was the fourth member last year. AJ Brown, Chicago; and Mattoon are the others currently qualified to take part in the tryouts.
There was FIS and Continental Cup action at Vancouver, Canada, over the weekend and more later in Europe to help decide the team.
Nordic Combined selection is similar with a Continental Cup at Steamboat Springs, Colo., and a World Cup at Ramsau, Austria, coming up this weekend and future competitions to decide the team by mid-January.
Bryan Fletcher heads the team and that leaves the remaining spots open to brother Taylor Fletcher, Ben Berend, Jasper Good, all of Steamboat, and the Loomis brothers in particular.
Ben Loomis has been the hottest of the Flying Eagles so far, outclassing the field in jumping and Nordic Combined recently at Steamboat in the first U.S. Cup competition of the season.
Loomis won the U-20 division with the two longest jumps of the weekend, soaring 95 2 and 95 meters (314 and 312 feet) and Andrew Urlaub surprised with a third place finish in the 25-jumper field. Both out-jumped other U.S. Team members.
Loomis also won the Nordic Combined event, finishing 1:04 ahead of the field with brother Adam Loomis fourth. In Senior Class jumping, Adam Loomis took fourth and Nick Mattoon fifth behind winner Brown.
Ben Loomis will compete at Steamboat in the COC event while being geared for the World Junior championships to be held in Switzerland beginning in late January while Adam, a veteran team member who skied in the 2015 and 2017 World championships, will compete in the World Cup at Ramsau and in other events in Europe.
Also looking ahead are U.S. Junior Team members Nate Mattoon, who skied in the World Junior championships last year, and Urlaub, who is the defending U-16 national junior champion and a top young prospect. He is expected to compete in the World Juniors and likely follow in the Junior Nationals to be held Feb. 20-24 in Anchorage, Alaska.
Young Flying Eagles juniors looking forward to the season are Landon and Carter Lee, Stewart, Logan and Eli Gundry and Annie Misurek among others.
Also on the junior schedule is a Feb. 18 tournament hosted by the Cameron Flying Eagles, directed by Alana Maki-Foust, a Coleraine, Minn., native who skied Silver Mine several times. She is a teacher in the Rice Lake area and started the club at Cameron.
Meanwhile, work on the large hill at Mt. Washington has begun under the direction of Matt Gundry. The 40-meter hill is being converted into a 55-meter with a tower that will pierce the sky and soar far above the hill. It is scheduled to be completed by the next ski season.
That means this year’s tournament in early January will be limited to the 7, 15 and 30-meter hills.
Preparation has already begun at Silver Mine Hill, where the club has hosted FIS Cup international tournaments the past two years but is returning to a national event this year that will include being part of the U.S. Cup and Central Division 5-Hills series.
Dan Mattoon, the architect of the club’s climb into international status, faces a busy schedule as an international tournament judge. He served as TD in Vancouver, then will head to Europe to serve as judge at two of the prestigious 4-Hill events – Dec. 31-Jan.1 at Obertsdorf and Garmisch, Germany and will go back later to judge the World ski flying championships Jan. 19-21 at Obertsdorf.