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Steamboat Magazine

Ski Jumping’s Newest Addition

01/22/2024 12:06PM ● By Elainna Hemming
(Photo: Sawyer Graves in-flight during a Steamboat Springs Youth Olympic qualifying event. Courtesy of Jeff Warner.)

Steamboat Springs, CO -
Howelsen Hill has had many future Olympians speed down its iconic ski jumps, and 15-year-old Sawyer Graves might just be the next one. Last October, Graves was seen barrelling down another ski jump in Lake Placid, New York. It was here that his impressive distance and steady landing resulted in a 2nd place finish; the first step towards qualifying for the Youth Olympics. Filled with nerves knowing there was a spot at risk, he later confirmed his qualification with another strong performance during the Winter Start, held in Steamboat in early December. “I had confidence that I could perform well enough to qualify, but I was still really excited and happy,” Sawyer says.

Ski jumping since he was a toddler, Sawyer attended the Hitchen Brother’s Wednesday night jumping competitions at the age of three. His youthful enjoyment transformed into serious commitment with the guidance of coaches and trainers at Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club.

(Sawyer Graves after a ski jump in Lake Placid, NY. Courtesy of Sandy Graves.)

The Youth Olympics, which occur every four years, are scheduled to be in Gangwon, South Korea. Taking place in late January, Sawyer will be training harder than ever as the competition looms near. In the weeks leading up to it, Sawyer is focused on eating healthier and more consistently, has put more emphasis on stretching, and has even gotten in a few hours of media training. Practices at SSWSC are as usual; Sawyer, and his four other teammates headed to the games, are continuing to train alongside each other in their normal groups. For Sawyer, this opportunity is not only a chance to jump in a prestigious competition but an opportunity for connections. “I’m hoping to meet other young athletes that I will be competing against now and in the future and get to know other people that take part in the world of ski jumping,” he says.

In addition to the Youth Olympics, Sawyer has also qualified for the World Junior Championships. Just one week after his time in South Korea, he’ll pack up his bags and prepare for another international competition. The World Junior Championships are in Slovenia, meaning Sawyer will be visiting two different continents in the span of a few weeks. “I’m hoping these competitions will give me more experience in traveling and competing at a higher level,” Sawyer says. “Training feels relatively the same, but with more focus on things that will affect your jump the most. I continue to get more excited every day to have this great experience.”

To watch Sawyer and other young athletes at the Youth Olympics, including live streams, highlights and news alerts, sign up for free with your email or social media account at: