Steamboat Springs Alpine racer Heidi Hillenbrand swept past the competition in a pair of downhill races at Durango Mountain Resort (formerly Purgatory) last weekend, highlighting a top showing for the Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club's girls.
"Our girls have really been working hard," local coach Aaron Haffey said. "It's nice to see that it's paying off for them."
Steamboat's Hillenbrand, who is a J-3 racer, led both runs of the Powerbar/Bula race series. The races were unique in that both races offered each racer two runs. Most downhill races are normally just one run, but Winter Sports Club coach Chris Puckett said this course was a little different.
"It was short, that's why there were two runs, but it was loaded with lots of bumps and great terrain changes," the coach said. "There were lots of crashes and it was tough just to finish."
In the first race on Saturday, Hillenbrand edged teammate Madeline McLean to the finish line. Vail's Laura Littman was third. The race was designed for racers 13 years of age and up. Puckett said it was great that Steamboat's J-3s (ages 13-14) could sweep the top two spots.
Pete Zimmer led the local boys' team with a fourth-place finish (he was second in the J-2 class). Sean Dixon was sixth and Brenden Gormley came across the line in 11th. Gormely was the top J-1 racer in the event.
Puckett said the Power bar/Bula races are designed for a wide range of ages but are normally won by the older J-1 and J-2 classes. He admitted some of those racers may have been in Montana for FIS events, but this was still a strong finish for the local skiers.
On Sunday, Hillenbrand won her second downhill of the weekend. This time Littman was second and McLean came in third. Zimmer was fouth in the boys' race and Dixon came in 14th.
"The important thing for Pete Zimmer and Sean Dixon is that they skied well enough to compete in an upcoming FIS downhill (Feb. 1-4) in Aspen."
Steamboat also sent 16 racers to a downhill race in Montana, but three days of snow have left the local racers idle.
A few of the Steamboat women will head to races in Winter Park this weekend for an FIS college race, but Puckett said the majority will be back in action at the Aspen downhills.