Winter Sports Club to hand out awards

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— On Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club awards night, Alpine director Tony Nunnikhoven gladly trades his winter parka for a dinner jacket and has even been known to replace his wool hat with a silk tie.

But awards night is about a lot more than giving coaches an opportunity to spiff up their attire. For Nunnikhoven and his peers, it's a chance to hand out the club's most prestigious honors to 22 different athletes. Getting dressed up is simply the best way to show their respect to those who have been named.

"Most of the year, we are on the hill looking like grease monkeys, so when this group gets all cleaned up there is a certain comedy to the situation," he said. "But it's an important thing to do. We want to teach our athletes to show the proper respect and this is a pretty big night for them."

This year, the Winter Sports Club's annual awards night is scheduled to take place at 7 p.m. on April 15 at Olympian Hall.

"It's our chance to honor people who exemplify what the Winter Sports Club really means," Executive Director Rick DeVos said. "It's just a neat opportunity to recognize the people in our organization who have displayed our real objectives over the course of the season."

Surprisingly, most of the awards are not based on top results, but instead focus on the skiers' leadership skills, academic success and sportsmanship during the 2002-03 season.

A few of the awards also go to coaches and volunteers who have gone that extra mile for the club.

The nominations came from coaches, but picking the winners is a drawn out process that includes key staff members and program directors, DeVos said.

Making the choices is a difficult task in most years, but DeVos said the club's success this season made the selection process one of the hardest he can recall. This year, the club's roster grew to 750 skiers, and included 115 coaches. The club also hosted two Junior Olympic championships, one national and one World Cup B event.

"Sarah Floyd (the club's athletics director) told us to start thinking about the nominations at a directors meeting back in February," Nunnikhoven said. "It's tough. We have so many athletes and so many that deserve to be nominated."

DeVos said the ceremony is a great way to wrap up a very successful year for the Winter Sports Club, both on and off the ski slopes.

-- To reach John F. Russell call 871-4209

or e-mail jrussell@steamboatpilot.com

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