Steamboat Springs The tricks are only getting bigger, and the talent is only getting deeper.
Fortunately, the snowboarders on the Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club's freestyle team proved they could stay ahead of the curve at the first Chevrolet Revolution Tour event of the season Friday through Sunday at Copper Mountain.
"The competition level is ridiculous," Winter Sports Club snowboard program director Jon Casson said.
The series serves as a qualifier for the 2007 FIS Snowboard Junior World Championships.
"(Taylor Gold) finished 23rd," Casson said. "His run would've won a few years ago."
Steamboat's Matt Ladley, 15, emerged from the field to claim a first-place victory in Sunday's halfpipe event.
"It was a huge run, everything was super smooth and technical," Casson said. "Big air and big spins."
The win does not directly qualify Ladley for the junior worlds because there are three more Revolution Tour selection events before U.S. Snowboarding officially names the team on March 12. A date and location has not been set for the championships.
But Casson knows the win is a step in the right direction.
"It definitely doesn't hurt - as long as he lands on the podium or close to it in a couple (of Revolution Tour events), he'll be set," Casson said.
Top finishes at Revolution Tour events last year catapulted Ladley to a spot at the FIS Junior Worlds in South Korea, where he finished 13th. He also earned a spot on this year's U.S. Snowboard Rookie Team.
Ross Baker, a Reno, Nev., resident who often trains with the Winter Sports Club, took third in the halfpipe. Charlie Peddie finished in eighth with a technical run he has been working to master, and Gold finished 23rd.
In Friday's snowboardcross event, the team had three riders - Mike Trapp, Conor Meyer and Mick Dierdorff - who qualified for the final round of 32 out of a field of 70. None were able to advance in his respective heat.
No Winter Sports Club riders advanced to Saturday's slopestyle event 12-man finals. Casson noted Peddie's near chance of advancing out the field of 90 after almost landing a "switch backside-9 into a cab-7."
The next Revolution Tour event is Feb. 9 and 10 in Mount Bachelor, Ore.
Ladley will be leaving for Oregon this week to compete in the season's second Chevrolet U.S. Snowboard Grand Prix competition Friday and Saturday at Mount Bachelor.