Alpine holiday classic gets a makeover

SSWSC coach building a better event for racers ... and fans

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— New Winter Sports Club coach Chris Puckett wants to make sure that alpine ski racing stays in the spotlight here in Steamboat Springs.

So Puckett has taken on the task of boosting the image of a series of alpine races that take place every year at Howelsen Hill over the holidays. This year he is hoping to make the annual races a premiere event on the Steamboat schedule.

The Steamboat Holiday Classic F.I.S. races will include not only slalom events, which they have been limited to the past several year, but also men's F.I.S. giant slaloms at Mount Werner. Also new this year is an open race under the lights at Howelsen hill.

"These races will break the mold for racing at the FIS level in Colorado," Puckett said. "I want the Holiday Classic races to bring the excitement back to alpine ski racing."

To do this Puckett and the Winter Sports Club will offer prize money to the winners of the events.

Puckett thinks that will bring more top-level racers to Steamboat for the events.

But he doesn't just want better racers for the events. Puckett, who just retired from the U.S. Ski Team last season, would like to see bigger crowds at the events cheering the racers efforts on the course.

To do that the events will be offering spectators some incentive to come out to the hill and watch the races.

"One of the big attractions for this event will be the BMW Triple Pick Challenge," Puckett said.

Any fan at the base can enter the challenge (one entry per race) and to win must pick the winners second run and combined times to the hundredth. If the entrant is able to successfully pick all three things, including the winner, there second run time and the combined time, he or she wins a year's lease on a BMW for a year.

The Triple Challenge will be just one of the weekend's promotions. There will also be give-a-ways at the open race as well.

The Holiday Classic will open on Dec. 30-31 with men's and women's slaloms at Howelsen Hill. The action will move to Mount. Werner on Jan. 2-3 for the giant slalom races. The first Steamboat open race will take place the night on Jan. 2 at Howelsen Hill.

Prize money and merchandise will be awarded to the top-three in all four men's FIS races ($300, $200 and $100), and both women's FIS races. The combined winner of all five races for the men will receive $500 and the combined winner for the two women's races will also pocket $250.

A World Cup scoring system will be used in the FIS races. Those points plus open race bonus points will determine the overall champion in the Holdiay Classic. Points will be awarded to the top-30 in each FIS race and the top four in the open race will receive bonus points

Racers in the open event can also look forward to cash and merchandise prizes for top finishes.

Cost to enter the open race, which will be held under the lights at Howelsen, is $55 for an individual and $200 for a team. The top indivdual will earn $1,000 and the top team can take home $600.

Prize money will be awarded to from second to 32nd depending on the number of entrants.

A qualifying race for the open race will be held on Mount Werner at the Bashor Ski area on Jan. 2 from 12:30 p.m. until 2:30 p.m.

"We want to make this a fun event for everyone in the community," Puckett said. "We want to get the locals coming back out to the slopes to enjoy alpine racing."

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