Joel Reichenberger: Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club ready for great 2011 |

Joel Reichenberger: Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club ready for great 2011

— The past year will be one the Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club will never forget.

I’ll never forget watching the Nordic combined Oly­­mpic events. I took in the silver medal team relay effort at the lodge at Howelsen Hill, trying to snap worthwhile photos of local fans who couldn’t stay in their seats as the hometown boys stormed across the course in Vancouver, British Columbia.

I watched Billy Demong win his gold medal from the base of Steamboat Ski Area, in front of One Steamboat Place. Again, a large crowd watched with bated breath as the action unfolded.

Certainly 2011 can’t top that kind of success by athletes with local ties as strong as those of Johnny Spillane and Todd Lodwick, but 2011 still can be a great year for the club, and for competitive skiing and snowboarding in Steamboat Springs.

That should be one of the lessons taken from the final weeks of 2010.

The freestyle program in particular is on the verge of incredible success. It landed one skier, Jeremy Cota, on the U.S. Freestyle Ski Team last season and added two more in December in Ryan Dyer and Brittany Loweree.

By the time we’re reviewing the accomplishments of 2011, we could be counting two, three or even four more Winter Sports Club athletes among new U.S. Ski Team members.

By the time we’re considering who’s going to be skiing in Sochi, Russia, for the 2014 Olympics, we could be talking about a Steamboat wave.

In Olympic-level winter sports, success for a program seems to breed success, and if the avalanche of local athletes making the team does happen, the club’s fortunes should only grow.

Competitions in Maine this week at the U.S. Cross Country Championships should be revealing about the Winter Sports Club’s Nordic program, as well.

It too seems on the verge of greatness, especially on the women’s side.

Michaela Frias and Haley Piske are skiing in the races and could establish themselves as two of the country’s best. But they’re only the top of a deep group of skiers that could dominate our headlines for the next year.

We all have things to look forward to in 2011. The Winter Sports Club certainly does as it seems ready to release another crop of world-class athletes into the very top levels of winter sports.

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