Steamboat sweeps top spots at Race to the Cup

Joel Reichenberger
Steamboat's Maggie Carrigan flies toward the finish line Friday night at the Race to the Cup event at Howelsen Hill in Steamboat Springs. Carrigan won the women's race while teammate Aaron Muss won the men's race. They're both back at it against another tough field Saturday at Howelsen.
Joel Reichenberger

— Steamboat Springs has been a refuge for Alpine snowboarders, and on Friday night the city showed it still has some of the best riders around.

Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club athletes swept the men’s and women’s races at the first of two Race to the Cup events at Howelsen Hill.

Maggie Carrigan threw her arms in the air and fell to her back when she was announced as the winner on the women’s side.

Aaron Muss, meanwhile, crossed the finish line with confidence, knowing he’d just wrapped up his third win in the series in as many races.

“I didn’t know if I had it, so I sat there and waited,” Carrigan said. “Then I heard and it was awesome. It means a lot for me to win.”

Carrigan had the most dramatic finish.

The parallel giant slalom event set racers against each other on side-by-side courses, one pass on each side for each racer in a given duel. Carrigan lost her first pass in the finals, but barely. She trailed by 0.006 seconds going into the final run.

She made that up, but again only barely, and she didn’t know it as she skidded to a snowy stop in the finish corral — not until the announcement came.

She emerged the winner by 0.01 seconds.

“I really hammered it and it worked,” she said.

Heather Herde was second and Lynn Ott, another Steamboat racer, third.

Muss was much more sure of his victory, which was in large part decided on the first race of the finals. There, eventual second-place finisher Bo-Gun Choi pulled up and off the course momentarily. He finished and went into the second race down by the mandated maximum 1.5 seconds.

Muss lost the second race, but rode with a little caution, thanks to his big advantage.

“I wasn’t going to go full bore, but I also wasn’t going to give it to him,” Muss said about the second run. “I did what I had to do, stayed with him and had a smooth, clean run.”

For Muss, who’s been training for years in Steamboat, the race was sweet and continues a great start to his season. He won both events in the same series last weekend at Buck Hill, Minnesota.

He’ll go for his fourth win in a row Saturday when the racers return to Howelsen, this time in a parallel slalom event.

“I was really excited. This means a lot,” Muss said. “I’m really gunning for the Nor-Am overall this year. Last year I was fifth and it would really help with my overall goals to get my own World Cup spot this year.”

Racing begins at 11 a.m. Saturday with the first run of qualifications. The second run follows at noon and the finals are slated to begin at 2 p.m.

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