Holiday Classic boasts biggest prize purse ever in 2023

Former Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club skier and University of Denver athlete Cole Puckett finishes 12th during the 2021 Murphy Roberts Holiday Classic at Howelsen Hill. The Holiday Classic returns for 2022 from Dec. 19-22.
Shelby Reardon/Steamboat Pilot & Today

Offering the largest prize purse in its history, the Murphy Roberts Holiday Classic will return to Steamboat Springs with the top young Alpine skiers in the nation from Monday, Dec. 19, to Thursday, Dec. 22. 

Competing for a share of the $34,000 purse, the Holiday Classic offers the largest prize of any FIS race in the country outside of the National Championships.

Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club Chief Operating Officer Jon Nolting explained that as the prize increases, it draws a stronger field of athletes to compete. There will be top regional, collegiate and nationally-ranked skiers at the event. 

“While this isn’t the biggest ski race in terms of importance perhaps, because of the prize money, it attracts one of the strongest race fields in the nation,” Nolting said. “It is, for many athletes, the highlight of their season and the most memorable race they do.”

The event will reintroduce the giant slalom to its schedule this year for the first time since 2006 for the men and 2009 for women. 

The four-day event will have competitions at both Steamboat Resort and Howelsen Hill, which Nolting believes makes it a world-class event because of how unique each venue is from the other. 

“The giant slalom up at the resort is on All Out race hill, which is kind of a sprint course,” Nolting said. “It’s shorter than most, so times are super close and the excitement up there is usually because literally one-hundredth of a second could determine the winner, and in this case, it could determine $1,000.”

The night race is always the most popular aspect of the Murphy Roberts Holiday Classic at Howelsen Hill.
Shelby Reardon/Steamboat Pilot & Today

Nolting believes Howelsen Hill offers the most challenging slalom of the entire circuit. Racers will have to deal with changing pitches, steep terrain and uncertain conditions. 

What makes the Holiday Classic so special is the hometown feel it offers the spectators. Community members and former competitors will all be in attendance to enjoy the Steamboat tradition. 

While all four days will feature racers at the highest level, Nolting is most excited for the night race at Howelsen Hill. With firepits, a happy hour and a festival atmosphere, the night slalom race will begin at 5:30 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 21.

“The Howelsen races are so accessible and so easy to watch from the base,” Nolting said. “The night race is really unique; it’s just so much more spectacular watching under the lights so for the community. If they want to come out and see something, the night race is the spectacle.”

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