Home-hill advantage

Winter Sports Club Snowboard Team member earns first place in SOS series event

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— Racing on his home course for the first time this season, David Manthei felt right at home on Howelsen Hill as he captured first place in the 16-17 age division and the best combined time in the opening competition of the Snowboard Outreach Society's series.

In one of the largest amateur snowboarding series in the country, Manthei's two runs in the slalom earned him a combined time of 73.62, which edged out Minnesota's Troy Vohn's combined time of 75.37.

"My runs were solid, but I had a few wobbles," said Manthei, of the Winter Sports Club.

"It's nice to be at home."

With runs of 37.77 and 35.85, Manthei took first out of seven competitors in the 16-17 age division, which fielded the most riders in Saturday's race.

The SOS series will continue at 10 a.m. today on Mount Werner for the giant slalom race.

Although many of the competitors, who span eight age groups, were amateur athletes from local athletic clubs such as Steamboat and Vail, other riders came from Minnesota, Washington and Utah.

SOS coordinator Chad Young said Saturday's 30 competitors is a lower number than the typical turnout for the season, which reaches about 50 to 60 competitors. Young said the turnout was partly because of the holidays and he is hoping more will come out for today's giant slalom race.

The Winter Sports Club had a strong finish in the 12-13 age division as it swept the first three places. Scott Stanko finished first as he came back from a first-round run with two falls to pull out a time of 38.69 in the second run. Charlie Peddie just beat out Steven Reed for second place with a combined time of 86.83.

In the 10-11 age group, Steamboat's Blake Eddington won with runs of 44.09 and 42.03, and in the youngest age group, Austin Reed won with times of 61.3 and 58.89.

In the first competition of the year, Peddie and Eddington said they spent only two days practicing the slalom and are looking forward to the halfpipe competition at next week's SOS event in Vail.

Steamboat's Sammi Smalley and Emily Robinson both took first as the lone female competitors in their age group.

Holding the slalom at Steamboat, Young said, gives Winter Sports Club members a chance to race on their own turf.

"A lot of snowboarding has moved to freestyle competition, and it's good to see Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club still focusing on good racing and good overall snowboarding," Young said.

The SOS series is a chance for Winter Sports Club members to qualify for nationals. The first-place finisher in each age division for the three slalom SOS competitions gets to compete at nationals.

Manthei, who has also competed in some International Ski Federation (FIS) competitions this year, said Howelsen Hill offers the hardest course in the SOS series.

"It's steep. We won't have a steeper, more technical course (in the series), but that is what makes it fun," he said.

Steamboat's Vic Wild had the fastest course time for the day when his second run ended in 34.58. But an early missed gate in the first round disqualified Wild and put him in fourth place for the 14-15 age group.

Along with the slalom, the SOS 15 events have riders competing in the halfpipe, giant slalom, slopestyle and boardercross. Money raised from the events goes toward introducing the sport of snowboarding to youth dealing with financial, legal and social challenges. By teaching at-risk kids snowboarding, Young said the SOS program instills the virtues of courage, discipline, integrity, wisdom and compassion.

The SOS series will return to Howelsen Hill in March for its final event in the halfpipe.

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