Chythlook-Sifsof to compete today in snowboard cross
Rider has strong ties to Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club
Whistler, British Columbia — Callan Chythlook-Sifsof isn’t exactly a household name in Steamboat Springs. But the native of Alaska would love to change that.
The first-time Olympic snowboarder from Girdwood, Alaska — home of Alyeska Ski Resort — has strong ties to the Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club and to pro-am snowboarding coach Thedo Remmelink.
Remmelink was one of the first people Chythlook-Sifsof phoned after learning she had been named to the U.S. Olympic team’s snowboard cross squad last month.
“To tell the truth, I don’t remember a lot of the conversation,” she said. “I was so exited that I had made the team I couldn’t hear what he was saying.”
Chythlook-Sifsof, who turned 21 this week, competes today in the women’s snowboard cross event at Cypress Mountain just outside of Vancouver, British Columbia. The qualification round is from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. and will be followed by the medal round, which is slated to begin at 2 p.m.
“I’m just so excited to get to go to the Olympics,” Chythlook-Sifsof said. “I don’t think that there is anything that can disappoint me. I just want to do the best that I can do, and hopefully I will be able to step it up at the Olympics.”
Chythlook-Sifsof started coming to Steamboat Springs in 2004 for training camps and spent most of the 2005 winter there, training and competing with the Winter Sports Club. She was named to the U.S. Snowboarding team the following season. She said she still stays in touch with the club and her former coach.
Chythlook-Sifsof was raised in a rural fishing village in Alaska located on the coast of the Bering Sea. She grew up snowboarding, but not on the carefully groomed slopes of a ski area.
“I learned to snowboard on the hill behind my grandfather’s house,” Chythlook-Sifsof said.
But she soon outgrew the hill, and with the help of her brother’s snow machine moved to the mountains that surrounded her hometown. Her family eventually moved to nearby Girdwood. She joined the local snowboarding club and began to race locally on weekends. Her love of freeriding drew her to snowboard cross.
She advanced to top regional and national competitions and camps. It was at one of those camps that she bumped into a coach who recommended that she should train with Remmelink and the Winter Sports Club.
“She has spent a lot of time training with us,” Remmelink said. “I think she has an incredible feel for the snow and speed. She has a very smooth style.”
Remmelink said Chythlook-Sifsof has learned to deal with all kinds of conditions in Alaska, including uneven and frozen snow. One of her strengths is that she quickly adapts to the conditions.
“She is also a very positive person,” Remmelink said. “I think that could help her at the Olympics. She’s always positive no matter what’s happening.”
She won the U.S. national title in 2006 and enjoyed more success in 2008, when she won the Jeep King of the Mountain. She opened the 2009 season with several strong showings, but her rise to the top was cut short by a knee injury that kept her off the slopes for most of the winter.
She seems to be back on track in 2010 and is looking forward to her first Olympic appearance. It will be the first time a native of Alaska has competed in the Olympics — a fact that Chythlook-Sifsof shares with all of Alaska.
“This is one of the greatest moments of my life,” she said. “Words can’t reflect how excited I am to be a part of the Olympics.”
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