Winter Sports Club breaks ground, honors past

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On a night forged in the rich history of the Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club, Ian Heath and Brian Adams broke new ground Thursday night.

Heath will become the first rider to have his name engraved on the Snowboard Spirit Award and Adams will be the first to have his name on the Freestyle Coaches Cup.

Both awards were unveiled during the Winter Sports Club's Awards night. The honors now will be handed out each year, along with a few top honors that recognize the skiers, riders and supporters of the club.

"Our history is very important," freestyle coach Erik Skinner said. "But we are also about looking into the future and where our roots will come from."

The Snowboard Spirit Aw----ard was established this year by the snowboarding program and is awarded to the athlete who best represents the passion and dedication to the sport of snowboarding that the club strives to attain.

Heath's track record for demonstrating a strong work ethic, his enthusiastic and supportive approach to teammates and the sport, and the example he sets for the sport were taken into consideration by the coaches who selected him.

"We want to reward one of our athletes for embodying the spirit of what snowboarding should be all about. Ian is that guy," said Jon Casson, the snowboard program director. "He's been on our team for three years, he's a talented athlete and a team leader."

But although Heath is talented, he isn't one of those guys who spent all winter competing.

Casson said the eighth-grader at Strawberry Park Middle School isn't driven by top results, but instead by the simple fun of carving down a mountain on a snowboard.

Adams is the first athlete to win the Freestyle Coaches Cup, which was established by the coaching staff at the Winter Sports Club.

"We're all excited to present this award," Skinner said. "We've been passing the idea around for a couple of years, and it's nice to see that it's actually going to happen."

The coach said Adams was the perfect person to receive this year's award.

"He's shown a tremendous devotion -- not only to the club, but also the sport of freestyle skiing," his coach said.

Adams came to the club two years ago after graduating from the University of Colorado.

"Brian was a guy who couldn't link two turns together when he first joined the club," Skinner said. "But he would show up with a smile on his face and give 110 percent every day. He was always and training and would never blow you off."

This year, Adams has the best finish of his career at the regional championships when he completed a solid top-to-bottom run.

He didn't finish on the podium, or even in the top-10, but Skinner said Adams skied to the best of his ability, which is all a coach can ask for.

"He's the kind of guy that makes you wish we had more like him in the club," Skinner said.

The Winter Sports Club announced 26 winners, including Heath and Adams at Thursday night's ceremony.

In addition to athletes, the club also honored four coaches (one from each discipline) as coach of the year. Jim Buford was named the club's Honorary Sustaining Member and the family of Tyler Gooding won the Ritter Memorial Courage Cup.

Winter Sports Club Exec--utive Director Rick DeVos said the new awards represent the growth the club is enjoying, and the memorial awards speak to the club's sense of history.

Most of the club's longer-run--ning awards are geared toward its roots in Alpine and Nordic skiing. But DeVos is hoping the addition of new awards in freestyle and snowboarding will help carry the Winter Sports Club into the future.

"These newer awards are aimed at recognizing the type of athletes we want to represent our club," DeVos said. "We want these to be the type of kids that every parent would be proud to have."

-- To reach John F. Russell call 871-4209 or e-mail jrussell@steamboatpilot.com

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