Bigger and better: Murphy Roberts Holiday Classic sees strongest field, largest purse in history |

Bigger and better: Murphy Roberts Holiday Classic sees strongest field, largest purse in history

Competing for Westminster College, Giulia Tintorri flies down the side of Howelsen Hill to record a 44-second time in her second run of the Murphy Roberts Holiday Classic slalom race on Wednesday, Dec. 21, 2022.
Tom Skulski/Steamboat Pilot & Today

With continued growth in popularity, prize money and expanded races, the 21st annual Murphy Roberts Holiday Classic hosted one of the strongest competition fields in its history with the top Alpine ski racers from across the nation competing for a piece of the $34,000 purse. 

The competition is named in memory of former Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club athlete Murphy Roberts, whose family came to support the competing athletes and celebrate a ski racing event that sees increased popularity each year. 

Murphy’s oldest brother, Dylan Roberts, emphasized the quality of athletes that compete every year and believes the intensity they bring to the sport is what separates this event from so many others. 

“It makes ski racing really fun for the athletes and the spectators,” Dylan said. “That’s what is so special about having the event be named after Murphy, because he always tried to make everyone around him have fun. He was always trying to enjoy every aspect of ski racing and being in Steamboat and how amazing of a place this is. This race really encapsulates his energy.”

One major pull for retaining interest in the event this year was the reintroduction of the giant slalom races at Steamboat Resort, which were on Monday, Dec. 19, and Tuesday, Dec. 20. 

This was the first time in over a decade the event included giant slalom, and two SSWSC athletes found themselves dominating the U18 category.

Steamboat’s Noelle Roth and Roman Elvidge each earned the top finishes among all U18 athletes for the giant slalom races while finishing 15th overall for the women and 33rd overall for the men, respectively. 

Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club athlete Alex Orozco navigates a hairpin in his second run of the Murphy Roberts Holiday Classic slalom race at Howelsen Hill on Wednesday, Dec. 21, 2022. Despite a solid 44.45 second first run, Orozco did not finish in his second.
Tom Skulski/Steamboat Pilot & Today

Roth combined for a time of just over 1 minute, 48 seconds on Monday, while Elvidge earned a 1:51.40 time.

Elvidge was proud of his performance early in the week and said he found a clear advantage competing in his hometown. 

“It’s a lot easier to wake up in your own bed and just drive down to the mountain like a normal day of training,” Elvidge said. “At the start, I’m surrounded by family and all my friends, and then at the finish, I know there’s people cheering for me that just want me to do well.”

Due to winter storm concerns, the night race at Howelsen Hill was canceled, and the athletes competed in slalom in the morning and early afternoon on Wednesday, Dec. 21.

The change did affect on how some athletes approached the competition, including Roth, who was physically exhausted from her recent competition load. 

“I raced in Aspen on Saturday, so I’ve been skiing for five days straight now,” Roth said. “I’m pretty tired, so when I found out it was moved to the morning, I was kind of bummed because, first of all, the night race is super fun, but then also I couldn’t sleep in. I’m definitely feeling the fatigue right now, but I’m fighting through it.”

Steamboat’s Laiken Roth took 34th overall in the slalom race at Howelsen Hill on Wednesday, Dec. 21, 2022, part of the Murphy Roberts Holiday Classic. Roth finished with a combined time of 1:25.44.
Tom Skulski/Steamboat Pilot & Today

For the women, it was Denver University athletes Nora Brand and Sara Rask who earned the top two spots on Wednesday. Brand combined for a 1:21.11 time on her two runs, with Rask coming in just 0.4 seconds later.

Canadian Justin Alkier won the top prize for the men, edging out Montana State racer Gianluca Boehm by less than one-tenth of a second.

Following Wednesday’s race, Murphy’s siblings Hig and Cassady handed out scholarships to athletes that exemplified their little brother’s spirit and love for ski racing. This was the fifth year in which the Holiday Classic was named in honor of Murphy Roberts. 

After his death in 2016, the Roberts family wanted to find ways for Steamboat to remember his name and have it continued to be spoken out loud. For Hig, there was no better option than an event at Howelsen Hill, which is a beloved area by so many in town. 

“We thought this was a perfect way to memorialize him,” Hig said. “It’s been a special thing because every year we all come home, come down to watch, we do a ceremony before the race and it’s amazing.”

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