Local winter sports club garners top honors again

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— Double sweet.

That's how Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club coach Mike Mallon describes the U.S. Skiing and Snowboarding Association's annual spring meetings that were held in Park City, Utah, last week.

It was sweet because Mallon and the Winter Sports Club were honored at the meeting as the top Snowboarding Club in the nation last winter. Mallon also pocketed an individual honor as the top domestic snowboarding coach.

"It's nice to be recognized," Mallon said. "I had an amazing coaching staff last winter and some great athletes. All the hard work really paid off."

Mallon said the team honor was the most important to him because it reflected well on all the coaches and the athletes. He was also happy to accept the coach of the year honors as well, but said that honor is more about him than the club or the team.

For Winter Sports Club Executive Director Rick DeVos, the awards are a sign that his club is carrying the same level of commitment and dedication into the next era of winter sports as it did with skiing.

"The club is really excited about what is going on in snowboarding," DeVos said. "The program fits into our club well. It's a great value and offers some of the finest coaches anywhere in the country."

Last year the snowboarding programs at Howelsen drew nearly 80 competitors ranging from the elite boarders headed to the U.S. Ski Team to younger riders just getting started in the sport.

The club launched four riders, Michelle Gorgone, Darren Ratcliffe, Justin Goto Reiter and Erica Mueller, into the ranks of the U.S. Snowboarding Team. Ten of the club's athletes also competed at the U.S. National championships at the end of the season.

The club also sent 25 riders to the USASA Nationals and collected 30 podiums at that event. Mallon said the USASA events are not recognized by USSA, but it's a pretty good example of just how strong the Steamboat team is now and will be in the future.

"I think our snowboarding coaches have brought a new level of professionalism to the club," DeVos said.

Mallon also cited his staff for the team's success on the slope last year. He said he wouldn't have been able to do it without the help of head freestyle coach Spencer Tamblyn and the other 11 assistants on the squad.

Mallon expects the Steamboat team will continue to be one of the strongest in the nation in the years to come.

He said he thinks the awards won this year will help drive new, talented athletes to Steamboat to check the local program out in years to come.

"I already know a few top-level riders who will be coming here next year," Mallon said. "I expect more to follow."

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