Boarders carve for the cup

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— For Alpine snowboarding coach Thedo Remmelink, next week's Race to the Cup is a chance to showcase the sport in Steamboat Springs.

But for several members of the Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club, next week's parallel giant slalom and parallel slalom is a chance to fill their hunger for top results.

"Every race is important," Steamboat Springs snowboarder Justin Reiter said. "It doesn't matter if it's the World Championships, the World Cup or the Race to the Cup -- the end goal is to ride well and win."

The Race to the Cup Alpine series, now in its second season, serves as a qualification for additional spots the U.S. team receives as the host country for a World Cup event to be held March 4 to 6 in Lake Placid, N.Y.

Reiter already has earned a spot for that event, but he said the races will be important for other U.S. Ski Team members training with the Winter Sports Club, such as Tyler Jewell, Zac Kay and Erica Mueller.

"Everybody wants to earn the World Cup spot for Lake Placid," Mueller said. "But it's also going to be fun to race here at home."

The races also are a chance to pick up points and money that are important in the pursuit of any winter sport, but especially for the young Winter Sports Club athletes.

The Race to the Cup will open with a parallel giant slalom event Monday on the slopes of Howelsen Hill. Remmelink said the racing would begin at 9:30 a.m. with the finals beginning at noon.

On Tuesday, the same field will return to Howelsen for the parallel giant slalom. That event also will begin at 9:30 a.m. with the finals scheduled to start at noon. The head-to-head races will feature the top men and women riders in North America competing for a World Cup berth, points and cash.

"I hope that everybody will come down and watch," Reiter said. "It can get pretty exciting when top riders are going head to head. Howelsen is a steep and challenging race course, so anything can happen."

The field is expected to include many of the top up-and-coming U.S. Ski Team riders, including Reiter, Kay and Jewell. Reiter hopes that American riders such as Ryan McDonald and Eric Warren also will come to Steamboat for the races.

Mueller expects a little more pressure on the Steamboat riders during the Race to the Cup events in Steamboat, but thinks the Steamboat team will shine at home.

"This is our chance to show off what we have," Mueller said. "I know that all of the Steamboat riders are looking forward to competing at home."

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