SSWSC picks up Ski Team awards

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For Rick DeVos' life to get any better, the Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club's executive director would have to win the lottery.

DeVos just got back from Park City, Utah, where the Winter Sports Club pocketed four awards, including Club of the Year, at the U.S. Skiing Association's 2004 Congress at the Yarrow Resort and Conference Hotel.

"This was a great finish for the Winter Sports Club," DeVos said. "I would have to say this is the best we've ever done."

Being named the U.S. Ski Team's Club of the Year didn't surprise DeVos, who let the news of the awards slip during the Winter Sports Club's annual awards night a month ago. But that didn't make the trip to Park City last week any less significant.

"Our athletic record speaks for itself," DeVos said. "But this is the U.S. Ski Team telling Steamboat that we are doing things right."

In addition to Club of the Year, two of the Winter Sports Club's programs and a coach also were singled out.

Steamboat is the home of the Cross Country Program of the Year and the Snowboard Club of the Year. Steamboat's Thedo Remmelink also was named Domestic Snowboard Coach of the Year.

DeVos said the programs and the coach were deserving of the honors.

"We've seen a 500 percent increase in the number of participants in our cross country programs the last couple of years," DeVos said. "When I first got here, there were two kids. Now we have more than 60."

He said the success of Steamboat's snowboarding programs speaks for itself.

Last year, Steamboat had more members at the U.S. Amateur Snowboarding Championships than any other club in the country.

Steamboat also was well represented at the USSA Nationals and had several riders competing on the World Cup level.

Remmelink was a big part of the program's success.

He has developed a strong following among the 18 athletes in Steamboat's ability program during the past two years and has attracted top riders to come to Steamboat for training.

"Most of the athletes (in our ability program) came to Steamboat for him," DeVos said. "He's one of the best coaches I've ever seen in any discipline."

Steamboat's Todd Lodwick and Billy Kidd also were recognized at the event.

Lodwick won the Buddy Werner Award, which goes to the USSA athlete who demonstrated leadership and good sportsmanship in national and international competition.

Lodwick he said he didn't know much about the award. He was in Steamboat when it was presented but said he will learn more about it this week when he travels to Park City to begin summer training.

"I think these awards will come into play when I'm done skiing," Lodwick said. "It's always great to have awards."

Kidd earned the Russell Wilder Award for outstanding effort to focus attention of the nation's children on skiing or snowboarding.

Kidd, who was vacationing in Florida this week, said the award recognizes his work with American Indian children during the past three years.

Kidd said he was inspired by Suzy Chaffee's program, the Native Voices Foundation, which works to expose American Indian children to winter sports. A few years ago, he started inviting a group of 20 children from Fort Dushane, Utah, to visit Steamboat each winter to try skiing as part of his Future Olympians Program.

"Many of them thought they couldn't do it," Kidd said. "They thought skiing was a rich man's sport."

Kidd worked to get equipment and clothing donated to make the sport more affordable. Kidd also has worked with children in the Special Olmypics Program, which he feels contributed to getting the award.

"At the Olympics, the athletes are the ones who get all the attention," Kidd said. "But once our skiing careers are over, most of the athletes who got the attention want to give something back."

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

or e-mail jrussell@steamboatpilot.com

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