For years, David Manthei has been chasing the elite pack of riders that lead the Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club's Alpine snowboarding program.
On Monday at Howelsen Hill, he caught them.
"I think this is my first podium ever in a NorAm, and I know it's my first podium against Justin (Reiter), Tyler (Jewell), Zachary (Kay) and Philippe (Berube). I've never, ever beaten Philippe," Manthei said. "It seems like those guys are always at the next level. It feels good to show that I can, at least, beat them, and now, I just have to get more consistent."
Manthei qualified with the second-fastest time for Monday's Race to the Cup men's parallel slalom at Howelsen Hill.
Then, he made quick work of Shane Carrick in the first round and Adam McLeish in the second round.
In the semifinals, he went head to head with teammate Zachary Kay.
Kay qualified for the finals with the third-fastest time and was riding a wave of confidence after topping the field in Sunday's giant slalom event.
It was a close race, but Manthei took advantage of a bobble by Kay on the top of the course and then held on to advance to the finals.
On the other side of the bracket, Philippe Berube also was making his way to the final heat of the day.
He beat William Bordy and Michael Lambert in the early rounds. Then, he edged a fast-moving Justin Reiter to advance to the final. Reiter had posted the fastest time in the qualifying round and looked to be unbeatable in the early rounds. But he fell to Berube in a close semifinal contest.
Berube joined the Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club program in Dec--ember and will represent Canada in the Olympics next month.
The first run of the finals also was a tight battle, with both riders making and overcoming mistakes.
Manthei's mistake came at the top of the course, but the Steamboat rider was able to recover and catch Berube at the finish line.
The Canadian rider had taken a more conservative line after realizing that Manthei had made a mistake. But he took a gate too wide and got caught in the soft snow. That mistake allowed Manthei to close the gap and win the run.
"I just joined the Steamboat team, so I don't have that much experience on this hill," Berube said. "I wasn't surprised to see him at the finish. ... He deserved to win. He was riding great all day."
Manthei's experience earlier in the day paid off in the finals.
"When I raced Zach, I let up a little bit a the end of the run, and he came back. It was a close call, and I got lucky," Manthei said. "So on this one, I knew I was ahead, but I didn't know by how much. I just had to keep charging, and there was no letting up."
In the second run of the finals, Berube struggled on a difficult blue course as Manthei raced to victory. Reiter finished third, and Kay finished fourth.
"It's big win because I've never won a NorAm, and I beat the guys that are usually beating me, so it's a big step forward," Manthei said. "In the big picture, it's not a big race, but it still feels good to get a podium."