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Steamboat Magazine

A Sibling Connection

02/23/2022 10:54AM ● By Tiia Libin

Steamboat Springs ski jumper Annika Belshaw. Photo courtesy of USA Nordic Sport

What is it about Steamboat Springs that leads to excellent sibling athletes? Like Steamboat snowboarders Taylor and Arielle Gold and Nordic combined skiers Taylor and Bryan Fletcher, ski jumpersAnnika and Erik Belshaw, and Nordic combined athletesAnnika and Niklas Malacinski are elite. With the help of each athlete’s dynamic sister-brother relationship, all four of these individuals have achieved excellence in their respective sports.

Both Annika and Erik say their family is competitive in nearly every aspect. “My brother has pushed me to work hard and push limits my whole life,” says Annika, 19. “When we were younger, every winter we would build a ski jump in our backyard and jump it on our skate skis. While we didn’t realize it at the time,I think that bonding experiences like this helped us grow and learn how to master our sport together.”

“My sister is extremely competitive and has always pushed me to be the best I can be,” says Erik, 17. “Annika has always ensured that I am doing the most I can to succeed.” Annika and Erik don’t get the opportunity to train much together anymore, as Erik spends most of his time in Europe and Annika lives in Park City.They keep in touch, and whenever they do get to train together, they challenge each other with new exercises and techniques.

Annika and Niklas Malacinski are also supportive of each other, and they say that by motivating each other, they’ve created a closer bond. “Niklas and I have an amazing relationship and I can honestly say he was the reason I started the sport of Nordic combined,” Annika, 20, says. “Seeing everything Niklas has accomplished over the years has made me realize how much of a role model he is to me. Even though he’s younger, he’s made me push my limits. I couldn’t ask for a better sibling or role model.”Men’s and women’s ski jumping and men’s Nordic combined will be a part of the Winter Olympics in Beijing in February 2022, but unfortunately, women’s Nordic combined has not yet been added to the list of events in the Winter Olympic Games. Annika Malacinski and the women’s Nordic combined team are striving to be accepted into the 2026 Winter Olympics in Italy.

Niklas, 18, is just as complimentary of his sister and says they are competitive in a playful way. This season they are on different competition schedules, but they make the effort to keep in touch and push each other.

All four athletes can’t say enough about their time spent training as a part of Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club and the city of Steamboat Springs for helping them reach their goals.“Steamboat is such an amazing community, to the point where everyone is willing to help in some way no matter what the struggle,” Annika Malacinski says. “Clubs encourage kids to try any sport they desire and coaches do an excellent job creating a positive, exhilarating learning environment.

”Ski jumping and Nordic combined are two of the most mentally and physically challenging sports of all theWinter Olympic sports, and with the help of sibling encouragement, the Belshaws and the Malacinskis have worked hard to become the best in their disciplines. They hope to add their families’ names to the long list of Olympic athletes to come from Steamboat