Bump Bash not all fun and games

Steamboat skiers get down to business

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The Landon Sawyer Bump Bash is a freestyle skiing competition disguised as a celebration.

"Everyone is dressed up in costumes, there is a barbecue, and it's a fun atmosphere," said Erik Skinner, Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club program director. "But when the kids get into the gates, it's all business."

Last weekend, 80 skiers from the Rocky Mountain Division, including more than a dozen from Steamboat Springs, arrived at the Arapahoe Basin Ski Area to celebrate the life of freestyle skier Landon Sawyer.

Sawyer, who attended Lowell Whiteman from 1997 to 1999 and trained with the Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club during that period, died in a skiing accident in February 2002. He was a member of the University of Colorado ski team at the time.

Since his death, the University of Colorado and the Rocky Mountain Division have hosted the Landon Sawyer Bump Bash each year as a memorial to the skier, who was known for his fun-loving personality.

"Landon just loved the sport. He loved hanging out with friends, goofing around and just having a good time," longtime friend Carly Gmeiner said. "I think he would have loved this event -- it's exactly why Landon skied."

She said the costumes and party-like atmosphere off the course during Saturday's events are a fitting tribute to her friend.

The antics add to the competition but do little to distract from the quality of skiing -- especially on Saturday, when the top athletes vied for sizable paychecks.

The top skiers in the men's and women's divisions earned $500 for first place, $250 for second place and $100 for third.

"It's a lot steeper than most of the courses we ski during the season," said coach Garth Hager, who dressed up like his dog in the spirit of the event.

Summit's Heather McPhie scored 22.02 points on her runs to top Steamboat's Caterina Mader, who finished second with 19.43 points. Sarah Ruckriegle, also of Summit, placed third with 18.53 points. Steamboat's Maryann Skraba was sixth, and Jessica Mader placed ninth for her best finish of the season.

Telluride's Jimmy Discoe topped the men's event with 23.61 points. University of Colorado skier Kevin Hanian was second, and Steamboat's Eddie Keiser was third.

Other top Steamboat finishers included Bo Randolph in eighth, Luke Kamieniecki in 15th, Morgan Allen in 18th, Ryan Dyer in 25th, Brian Adams in 29th and Alex Chotvacs in 35th.

Conditions were difficult for Sunday's dual mogul events. Four inches of new snow made navigating the course at Arapahoe Basin even more difficult.

Caterina Mader used speed and clean turns to beat McPhie in the finals of the women's event.

Hanian topped Discoe to win the men's dual event. Randolph was third, Allen was sixth, and Adams placed ninth.

The bash was the final freestyle event of the season for the Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club skiers.

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