Saturday, January 12, 2002
Steamboat Springs For years, David Hudspeth has groomed the trails that have led many Steamboat athletes to the Olympics.
And now it is his turn to go.
At the end of January, Hudspeth will pack his bags for Salt Lake City, not to compete but to make sure the trails at Snowbasin are well groomed for the Olympic downhill and super-G events.
The grooming supervisor of the Steamboat Ski Area was one of 18 groomers from around the country chosen to help the staff at Snowbasin prepare for the Olympic Games. Although Hudspeth said his duties could include grooming for the public or for Olympic courses, he is still unsure as to exactly what he will be doing.
Grooming at Steamboat for the past 23 years, Hudspeth has had plenty of experience preparing racecourses for world-class competitions.
In the past few years, he worked on the racecourses that played host to World Cup events in Steamboat. He has been instrumental in preparing the courses for downhill, super-G, giant slalom, slalom, moguls and big air events.
"He is the best of the best. It wasn't a hard choice," said David Krisler, the Steamboat Ski Area's director of slope and vehicle maintenance. "He's well known through vendors in other ski areas. His name is just out there."
During the summer, Krisler encouraged Hudspeth to apply for the chance to groom at the Olympics, which meant sending in a resume. This fall, while many Steamboat athletes where training for a berth on the Olympic team, Hudspeth found out his spot was secure.
"It's kind of an honor. It hasn't sunk in yet," Hudspeth said.
The Steamboat native began grooming courses while still in high school and has been doing it ever since. Although much of his time has been spent on the slopes of Mount Werner, Hudspeth also worked on Howelsen Hill in the early and mid-'80s.
Krisler said while at Snowbasin, Hudspeth would be expected to build jumps, move snow and groom trails.
Although Hudspeth has plenty of experience in grooming trails for world-class events, preparing for an Olympic downhill and super-G race will be challenging.
"The course has to be like a baby's butt," Krisler said. "(Skiers) travel at speeds of 90 miles an hour, so that course has to be smooth. It has to be set up so it is hard from the last (skier) to the first."
As the world's best winter athletes gather in Utah, so will the country's top groomers. And that gathering will be a sort of a convergence of the minds on mountain maintenance as groomers come from Vail, Keystone and Winter Park and from New Mexico.
"There could be all sorts of ideas and people with different opinions," Hudspeth said.
But, Hudspeth said, he does not expect to be on the slopes the entire time. During his time at the Olympics, he said he is hoping to do a little sightseeing, watch some events and maybe get the chance to catch an Olympic hockey game.
Although he doesn't know where he will be staying, Hudspeth plans to be in Snowbasin from Jan. 26 to Feb. 16. While his work plans are scheduled for Snowbasin, he said there is a chance he could be sent to other Olympic venues like Deer Valley, which will hold the slalom, combined, moguls and freestyle events.
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