Race to the Cup kicks off in Steamboat Springs this weekend | SteamboatToday.com

Race to the Cup kicks off in Steamboat Springs this weekend

Steamboat Springs snowboarder Maggie Rose Carrigan flies toward the bottom of Howelsen Hill during the Race to the Cup parallel slalom in Steamboat last year. The annual event starts Saturday, Dec. 8, at Howelsen Hill.  (Photo by Joel Reichenberger)

STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — The Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club will host its annual Race to the Cup Alpine snowboarding competition at Howelsen Hill this weekend with parallel giant slalom and parallel slalom events.

Steamboat Springs is the first of three U.S. Snowboarding Race to the Cup events and an opportunity for athletes to score World Cup points.

At the end of the season, the top three snowboarders in America will earn spots to compete in the World Cup. Steamboat’s own Robby Burns, Cody Winters, Maggie Carrigan and Millie Bongiorno are all top contenders for spots in the World Cup this year.

If you go

What: Race to the Cup Alpine snowboarding competition
10 a.m. Saturday and Sunday
Where: Howelsen Hill

“They’re basically there now in their time in their career,” Winter Sports Club snowboard pro-am race head coach Thedo Remmelink said. “They are definitely looking at World Cups.”

The parallel giant slalom is slated for 10 a.m. preliminary competition and 1 p.m. finals on Saturday, Dec. 8, while the parallel slalom will have the same schedule on Sunday, Dec. 9.

Alpine snowboarding is a storied tradition in Steamboat Springs.

Ester Ledecká, who won gold in Alpine snowboarding and Alpine skiing in Pyeongchang, trained in Steamboat. She is the first woman to win gold in two Winter Olympic sports, and her coach, Olympian Justin Reiter, also trained in Steamboat. Reiter’s former Winter Sports Club teammate Vic Wild won gold in Alpine snowboarding for Russia in 2014.

“Howelsen Hill is a special place for us with a lot of tradition,” Remmelink said. “What’s good is there’s a quick turnaround, so you can get many training runs in. It’s challenging terrain with a lot of variety. We can practice a lot of difficult things.”

By the numbers

Vertical gate distance:
• Giant slalom: 20 to 27 meters
• Slalom: 8 to 15 meters

The qualifying rounds allow athletes to race the course twice and finalists will be determined based on combined times. The top 16 men and 16 women will enter the finals, where they race side-by-side until they get the top two finishers.

“Carving skills are super important and so are mental skills,” Remmelink said. “We are racing in a parallel format, knockout system. You have to be mentally very strong with someone next to you.”

There will be 60 riders in the weekend competition, and 20 of them are from Steamboat Springs. Winter Sports Club athletes are coming off a two and a half week camp at Copper Mountain and 10 days of training here in Steamboat.

“We’re excited to host this event. We’ve hosted it for the past eight years,” Winter Sports Club Snowboarding Program Director Tori Koski said. “Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club is one of the biggest snowboard Alpine programs in North America. We’ve got a ton of athletes that we’ve raised from kids growing up in Steamboat to World Cups and Olympics.

“This is where it all starts. We’re happy to host them.”

To reach Leah Vann, call 970-871-4253, email lvann@SteamboatPilot.com or follow her on Twitter @LVann_Sports

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