Wednesday, February 20, 2002
Steamboat Springs So, where do you go after winning an Olympic medal in the halfpipe?
Steamboat Springs is hoping it is Mavericks.
Friday is the start of the biggest snowboarding event in Steamboat history and one that could attract Danny Kass and J.J. Thomas, riders just off their podium finishes at Salt Lake City.
For the first time, the American Snowboard Tour is coming to Steamboat for three days of competition in the parallel giant slalom, halfpipe and big air events. The longest-running professional and amateur snowboarding tour brings with it members on both the U.S. and Canadian national snowboarding teams.
In conjunction with the snowboard tour event, the Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club is hosting the Western Regional Snowboard Championship, an event that is expected to bring in close to 200 riders.
Pending Olympic regulations, Steamboat could see two of the three snowboarders that helped sweep the men's halfpipe competition in Salt Lake. Craig Elledge, spokesman for American Snowboard Tour, said that if the International Olympic Committee allows athletes to compete in outside events after their Olympic competition is over (but before the Olympics end), Steamboat should expect to see Kass and Thomas.
The possibility of Kass, Thomas and other well-known snowboarders gracing Steamboat Ski Area's new superpipe, Mavericks, is an idea that Steamboat's Vice President of Marketing Andy Wirth likes.
"This directly relates to the new superpipe, Mavericks. The concept and design of the superpipe was an effort to really put Steamboat on the map of the snowboarding world," he said.
Wirth said Mavericks, which cost between $50,000 and $70,000, was instrumental in attracting the tour event to Steamboat and, even more importantly, is intended to attract a younger crowd. This weekend's event will be broadcast on Fox Sports Net "Core Culture" show in March.
The event also fits in nicely with the Western Regional Championship, which is held in Steamboat for the second straight year. The halfpipe and giant slalom events are staggered throughout the four days to allow riders to compete in both competitions.
The tour's parallel giant slalom is held on Friday and the halfpipe on Saturday, while the western regional competition will hold its parallel giant slalom on Thursday, halfpipe on Friday and slalom race on Saturday.
In the final day of events, Sunday will have the AST big air event and the boardercross for the Western Regional competition.