Steamboat proves it's best ski patrol in the state

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— It's official: Steamboat's ski patrollers are the best in the state, and they've got the Pro Ski Patrol of the Year Cup to prove it.

The Steamboat Ski and Resort Corp.'s ski patrol participated in a variety of ski patrol competitions at the 30th annual All-State Patrol Convention in Telluride this week. From giant slalom to avalanche search events, the local patrollers came out on top, bringing home the coveted cup naming them best in the state.

Ski patroller Jeff Sumskis was one of 12 patrollers who traveled to the convention and took part in the festivities.

"Steamboat has never won this cup before so this is a pretty big deal," he said. "We're really excited to be named the best patrol in the state. We took the cup away from Winter Park -- who had won it for the last nine years in a row -- so it was pretty exciting."

Teams from every Colorado resort participated in the convention, approximately 600 people in all, Sumskis said.

Steamboat's patrollers were required to race in giant slalom and toboggan events and participate in an avalanche bomb toss and avalanche beacon search. Along with competing in the individual events, teams also gained overall points in the quest for the Pro Ski Patrol of the Year Cup.

"Our giant slalom team won the event," Sumskis said. "They were competing against 10 teams from around the state, like Winter Park, Aspen and Telluride."

The giant slalom team was made up of patrollers John Floyd, Troy Kuhl, Charlie Reynolds, Steve Hayslip and Joe Packard.

Steamboat had two, three-man teams in the toboggan events. There were 18 teams that participated in that race.

Floyd, Reynolds and Kuhl won the race and Dave Gormley, Joe Packard and Hayslip finished third.

The avalanche bomb toss was a competition for total team points. Steamboat had 12 participants in the event.

"The bombs were made of 2-pound soup cans," Sumskis said. "They were supposed to simulate a 2-pound charge. We had to throw them into a target area to get team points."

In the avalanche beacon search, which was also for team points, patrollers had to find two buried beacons in a simulated avalanche zone.

Each year, the ski patroller convention is held at a different resort in Colorado. The Ski Patrol of the Year Cup was established in 1984. In the last 16 years, Winter Park has taken the cup home 13 times.

"We know Winter Park was very sad to lose the cup. They were extremely gracious about giving it up and we really enjoy the competition," Sumskis said. "But, we're really proud. This competition is really competitive and it takes a team effort to win and that's what we had."

Patroller Kuhl was on the winning giant slalom team and toboggan team.

"I think this is great. We've been racing those other teams for so many years and we finally kicked their butts," he said. "It really shows how good our patrol is and how we work as a team. It was great when we came home. There were a lot of patrollers who stayed behind to work so we could go and they were all really excited for us."

Kuhl said that the team has been training all year for the competition.

"A lot of us train in the Town Challenge," he said. "This is a big deal and we all work hard to get ready for it."

At the close of the all-state convention, Steamboat also walked away with first-place cup and trophy in the giant slalom, a cup and trophy for the third place finish in the toboggan race, a brand-new, $800 Cascades toboggan and the coveted Pro Ski Patrol of the Year Cup.

The awards are something that Sumskis said the entire Steamboat Ski Patrol should be proud of.


-- To reach Bryna Larsen, call 871-4205 or e-mail blarsen@amigo.net

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