If you want to see an 18-year-old get excited about something in today's world, ask Steamboat Springs snowboarder David Manthei about next week's World Cup parallel giant slalom at Mount Bachelor in Oregon.
As he talks, you will notice the corners of his lips curling upward to form a huge grin. Just a few words from him flood the room with a sense of excitement.
"I didn't even expect to be there," Manthei said of the first World Cup start of his career. "I knew the United States was going to host one, but I was just hoping for a chance to forerun."
Manthei will get the chance to do a lot more than forerun when the best Alpine riders in the world stop at Mount Bachelor for a rare World Cup event.
Manthei will be one of three Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club snowboarders guaranteed to start in the parallel giant slalom, scheduled for March 4 and 5.
Teammates Tyler Jewell and Erica Muller also will represent the SSWSC. Coach Thedo Remmelink thinks Justin Reiter, Josh Wylie and Darrin Ratcliffe also have a shot at earning a World Cup start, but he will have to wait until after the final event in the Race to the Cup qualifying series held May 1 and 2 at Crystal Mountain, Wash.
The start is the latest in a line of accomplishments for Manthei, who is having his best season to date.
He was the top American finisher in the parallel giant slalom at the World Junior Championships on Feb. 12 in Klinovec, Czech Republic, where he finished ninth.
"Dave rode very well. He showed me that he had the ability and the head to be a real player internationally," U.S. Snowboarding Alpine coach Nick Smith said. "A little bit more experience and some more growth physically, and he'll be able to get the job done."
Manthei also earned the World Cup start with an impressive third-place finish at Okemo Resort in Vermont earlier this year during another Race to the Cup event. The top rider typically earns the World Cup start at the Race to the Cup events. But because the winner, Jewell, had qualified for the World Cup, he turned it down. The second-place finisher was from Canada, which meant that Manthei moved to the top and earned the start.
A large group of Steamboat riders loaded into a van early Wednesday morning to begin the 20-hour journey to Washington.
A few will get a chance to show what they can do in one of the biggest international races of the season in America.
"There are big starts for all of our riders," Remmelink said. 'This is a chance to make that next big step and move on to the next level."