Grand Finale

Final 25 days at ski area packed with events


The time to relax for Steamboat Ski Area employees is fewer than 30 days away. They will have earned the rest.

Between Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club ski races, NCAA ski races and quirky events such as the Cowboy Downhill, the past 4 1/2 months have been a whirlwind.

The final month will be another busy one in Steamboat, highlighted by the NASTAR National Championships, which begin Thursday.

The calendar for the closing 25 days begins Saturday with the Jimmie Heuga Snow Express, an annual race that raises more than $50,000 for the Jimmie Heuga Center, benefiting patients with multiple sclerosis.

Heuga and Billy Kidd, Steamboat Ski Area's director of skiing, were 1964 Olympians.

The Mavericks Superpipe Challenge originally scheduled for Saturday has been canceled so the ski area can focus on the four-day NASTAR National Championships, ski area public relations manager Heidi Thomsen said.

"These are athletes who have qualified to be here," Thomsen said. "We are stoked to have it."

In place of the Mavericks Superpipe Challenge, a rail jam is being held in conjunction with the NASTAR races, giving spectators the chance to watch 35 pro am athletes plus other local skiers and riders on Headwall.

The rail jam is scheduled for 4 p.m. March 24 on Headwall ski run. The rail jam will contain features from the SoBe Terrain Park, as well as a new 40-foot rail designed by Cactofab owner Kevin Nemec. It's called a "flat to the flat down, flat down" rail.

The NASTAR National Championships kick off at 5:30 p.m. Thursday with a concert by the Gin Blossoms. Immediately following the concert will be a viewing of footage from the new Warren Miller Experience film.

Images Miller's crew shot while in Steamboat won't be in the Thursday viewing, but footage from The Canyons in Utah will be shown on an outdoor screen. The final film, which is due out next season, will feature footage from Steamboat's epic opening month.

This year, more than 1,300 of the country's top recreational skiers and snowboarders of all ages and abilities will compete for national titles in the NASTAR National Championships.

When the calendar flips to April, attention shifts to the Mountain Dew Vertical Challenge Regional Finals and the 26th annual Cardboard Classic.

The Mountain Dew Vertical Challenge is simple. The racer who has the best time in each event wins. The regional finals are part of a series with more than 50 skiers and snowboarders. Races are held across the country, and Mountain Dew provides entertainment for fans.

Pride and a sense of accomplishment are the biggest rewards for participating in the Cardboard Classic, Steamboat's rite of spring.

This year's event is April 8, the day before the mountain closes. Participants build homemade crafts made entirely out of cardboard, duct tape, glue, string, water-based paint and masking tape. The crafts are supposed to be able to go down Headwall, but that isn't always the case. Prizes are awarded for creativity in this unique event.

--To reach Melinda Mawdsley, call 871-4208 or e-mail


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