Steamboat Springs After two World Cup starts this month, it appears the members of the Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club's alpine snowboarding program are off to another strong start.
But this is a different season for the local snowboarders. Former Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club coach Hans Joerg Berger has assumed the position as assistant coach of the American team along with new head coach Steve Persons. Steamboat coach Thedo Remmelink thinks the move is a healthy one for the sport in the United States and will make the transition from the local club to the national team easier than it has been in the past.
"We used to take our own team to World Cups. It was a very competitive situation and it wasn't healthy," Remmelink said. "But now we don't have to do that. It's good for our program and the riders."
Justin Reiter might agree, after setting the tone for the men's team during a parallel slalom race in Landgraff, Netherlands Oct. 13 and during the first parallel giant slalom in Slden, Austria Sunday.
Reiter was the top American rider in Sunday's race - the first parallel giant slalom on the season.
He qualified for the finals in 11th place, but lost a tight dual with Swiss rider Heinz Inniger in the first round of elimination placing 13th overall.
Inniger went on to finish fifth in the event that was won by his teammate, and Olympic silver medalist Simon Schoch. Schoch's younger brother Philipp, who won the Olympic gold medal, was third and Slovenia's Rok Flander was second.
Other top Steamboat riders earning top finishes included Tyler Jewell in 20th and Zachary Kay in 29th
It was the second time this season that Reiter has qualified for the finals of a World Cup event.
He also made the finals of a parallel slalom race in the Netherlands a week earlier.
Austria's Siegfried Grabner won that race. Grabner's first-place finish broke up an otherwise dominating day for the powerful Swiss team.
Switzerland's Simon Schoch picked up where he left off last year, placing second, and was followed by teammate Daniel Biveson in third. The Swiss team had four riders in the top-10 in the opening competition of the World Cup schedule.
Adam Smith led the Americans in ninth. Top Steamboat riders included Reiter in 12th, and Kay in 15th.
The women also opened their season in the Netherlands with Steamboat Springs Erica Mueller leading the American team with a 12th-place finish. Former Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club riders Caroline Calve was seventh and Kimiko Zakreski was 10th. Both riders were with the Steamboat team last season, but have returned to the Canadian national team this season.
Mueller was 28th in Sunday's parallel giant slalom. Calve placed 14th.
"Last year was pretty intense for everyone," Remmelink said. "We decided to lay low this summer. We didn't go to Chile. But the Steamboat riders left a week early with Hans (Berger) to train, and it really seemed to pay off."