Western regional champs a homecoming for Steamboat-raised collegiate athletes | SteamboatToday.com

Western regional champs a homecoming for Steamboat-raised collegiate athletes

Steamboat Springs High School graduate and University of Colorado sophomore Chase Seymour barrels down a slalom course during the Rocky Mountain Intercollegiate Ski Association Western Regional Championships on Thursday, Feb. 24, at Howelsen Hill.
Shelby Reardon/Steamboat Pilot & Today

As University of Denver Alpine skier Cole Puckett sped toward the finish during a slalom race at Howelsen Hill, he played lyrics in his head.

“I love coming back here,” Puckett said. “I always hear that song, ‘Homecoming,’ in my head by Kanye West coming into the finish — ‘I’m coming home again.’”

Puckett, a junior on the Pioneers ski team, was one of six Steamboat Springs High School graduates who competed at Howelsen Hill over the last few days as part of the Rocky Mountain Intercollegiate Ski Association West Regional Championships.

Puckett finished eighth in giant slalom at Steamboat Resort on Wednesday, Feb. 23, and was hoping to carry that speed into the slalom race the next day. However, he had a rough first run and had to hike back uphill for about 20 seconds to get around a missed gate.

“Then that put me in last place for the second run,” Puckett said. “Second run, I was running last and I bet my team. I said, ‘If I get top 10 on the run, you guys get to do any favor for me that I ask.’ That was a little ambitious, as it turned out, but I went out and skied pretty fast.”

Puckett had the 29th-fastest second run and finished 50th.

Trey Seymour, another former Sailor, had a few great days in Steamboat. The DU sophomore took third in giant slalom Wednesday, and 17th and 23rd, respectively, in Thursday’s and Friday’s slalom races.

“It’s a little bit relieving,” Seymour said. “The last two weeks were a little difficult result-wise. It’s nice going into the last stretch of races of the year to have a strong result to get some confidence for the rest of the year.”

Brother Chase Seymour, who skis for the University of Colorado, also had a relieving day. Chase has had a lot of DNFs on his record this year, including in his second giant slalom run Wednesday. So, a 41st-place finish in Thursday’s slalom race was a welcome result. He still wasn’t satisfied, though.

“I had pretty clean skiing, but just (made) a lot of mistakes,” Chase said. “On a hard-charged hill like Howelsen, mistakes are just too costly.”

The pair have gotten closer since splitting up to go to different colleges. It’s made them more thankful for the time they do get to spend together.

“I’m not around him all the time, so I definitely appreciate him a little bit more,” Trey said.

While the Seymours and Puckett competed in a final slalom race on Friday, Feb. 25, other Steamboat Springs High School grads were competing in the Nordic classic race.

Wyatt Gebhardt, a senior at the University of Colorado, recorded a 22nd-place finish in the classic race and is wrapping up his collegiate career with a final freestyle race on Saturday, Feb. 26.

“Today was fun being back in Steamboat, where I grew up on my home course. It’s fun to always race that,” he said. “It’s just nice to be able to come home, feel comfortable, sleep in my own bed and eat my mom’s home-cooked meals.”

Pioneers freshman Sidney Barbier had her first collegiate race on her home course at Howelsen Hill and she flew, finishing 15th in the highly competitive field.

“You definitely get that home-course advantage,” Barbier said. “I’ve skied this since I was really, really little. Being able to have everyone here cheering you on is really cool.”

Denver teammate Sadie Cotton is concluding her collegiate skiing career on the trails at the Howelsen Nordic Center, which she said feels right.

“It’s pretty crazy. I only lived here before I came to college, but I feel like this is where I started thinking I wanted to ski in college,” Cotton said. “It’s kind of where it became a reality for me, so it’s super special for me to be able to finish here. It’s full circle. It makes this weekend really nice and kind of bittersweet.”

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