Steamboat Springs Winter Carnival dual slalom event draws huge crowd
February 8, 2013
Steamboat Springs — Of all the things that go into the 25th annual dual slalom bicycle race, it came down Friday to something any sports fan can understand.
Trevyn Newpher had the fastest qualifying time giving him his choice of courses. Jesse Hunt didn't.
In the end, Newpher navigated the blue course — the same one he had ridden all night — and Hunt had to ride the red course for the first time in the finals. Hunt crashed near a top gate, and Newpher rode to victory in one of Winter Carnival’s unique events.
"One of the tracks usually ends up being faster," Newpher said. "I had gate choice, and I could choose and constantly ran blue. Jesse is a top-notch rider. But I forced him on red and won."
It was one of the night’s best races, in a competition that pits riders against snow on the face of Howelsen Hill.
The dual slalom provided plenty of viewer friendly moments. A portion came with rugged crashes and downhill bikers flying down the face of Howelsen. A good portion, however, came in watching the riders try and get bikes up the Poma at Howelsen.
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"Honestly, it was harder to go up the Poma than down the run," Hunt said. "I just started carrying my bike. I didn't want to try to ride up again."
For Newpher, who splits his time between Steamboat and West Virginia, it was his second win.
Newpher won the event six years ago in his first try. But the following four years, he never could quite get back.
On Friday, it was clear he was, along with a few others, one of the fastest riders on snow.
In the summers, Newpher works at Snowshoe Ski Resort's bike park in West Virginia. It provides plenty of time to ride, but when it comes to darting a bike in and out of slalom gates down the face of Howelsen, Newpher said it's more about trial and error.
Some riders chose fat tires and most had studs in their tires.
For Newpher, his set of tires was made six years ago after several efforts. His have sheet metal screws and washers on the sides of the tires, and the center rolling surface is pretty bare.
From there, though, it's about something else.
"Really it's survival," Newpher said. "At a certain point, you have to commit to the ruts. You have to ride them out. You have to separate yourself from the bike and let it move."
The event drew one of its biggest fields in history. More than 30 riders showed up, with the top 16 from the qualification advancing to the finals.
From there, it was a dual format that whittled the competition down to eight, then four, then Newpher and Hunt.
"That was a great crowd," said Race Director Chris Johns, who is trying to put together a summer dual slalom competition and trials event. "We talked when we were setting the course. We said, 'This is going to be a better competition.' I think people really enjoyed it."
To reach Luke Graham, call 970-871-4229 or email lgraham@SteamboatToday.com
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