Steamboat riders find gold in Copper


— Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club members wrapped up a golden week at the USASA National Championships last Friday.

As a club, Steamboat collected 23 gold medals, 17 silver and 15 bronze at the seven-day event, which took place at Copper Mountain from March 29 to April 4. Twenty-two of Steamboat's 34 riders who competed placed in the top 10 in their age divisions, and the club finished with 89 top-10 finishes.

Steamboat's Arielle Gold and Nik Baden won multiple individual titles, and Baden, Gold, Cassie Wagar and Mimi Wienke also brought home overall titles.

"I never expect those kind of results from any of the riders," said Jon Casson, the Winter Sports Club's snowboard program director. "It's not easy to win a title. All of our athletes were very well prepared, but they also have to have luck, and the weather conditions going for them. It only takes one little fall."

Gold understands that better than most of the 1,600 snowboarders who took part in this year's championships.

Last year, she fell in the finals of the boardercross and hurt her back in her first event. She continued to race, but the pain from that crash had a definite impact on her performance.

"I think I wanted to get back and show everybody what I can do," she said. "I didn't really get a chance to do that last time around."

The Steamboat rider, who turns 12 in May, didn't waste any time making a statement in 2008.

She won the boardercross on the opening day, and then followed it up with wins in the slalom, giant slalom and halfpipe events. She placed second in the slopestyle on the final day in a close battle with Vermont rider Ty Walker.

The event was so close that after naming the Steamboat rider the winner, judges reviewed the results and changed their minds.

"I wouldn't have minded because I think it was the right choice," Gold said. "I think I was a little disappointed because they gave it to me and then took it away."

But she added the overall Alpine (combination of slalom and giant slalom), overall combined (Alpine and freestyle events) and overall triple combined (combined and boardercross) to her four individual gold medals. She also tied for the overall freestyle title (halfpipe and slopestyle) with Walker. MaggieRose Carrigan also had a strong showing in the Menehune girls division. Her second in the slalom and third in the giant slalom helped her earn a third in the overall Alpine standings.

Baden also had a strong week, winning the slalom, halfpipe and slopestyle events. He also earned the overall freestyle title and tied with another rider for the overall combined title. Other notable finishes included a fifth in giant slalom, a second in boardercross, and third-place results in the overall triple combined title and overall Alpine title.

But it wasn't the finishes that left an impression on the 10-year-old Steamboat rider - it was the spirit of competition.

"The best part of the week was the feeling I got right before a competition," Baden said. "I was nervous, but it was a good feeling."

Baden wasn't alone. Joel Revo, who competed in the same age class, also walked away from this year's championships feeling good. He picked up a second in the giant slalom and a third in the slalom. Consistent finishes in the other events earned him a second in the overall Alpine, and third in the overall combined and overall triple combined standings.

Wagar won the slopestyle event and was second in both the giant slalom and slalom events in the youth women division. She also picked up a fourth in the boardercross and a fifth in halfpipe. Her consistent finishes helped her earn the top spot in the overall freestyle, overall combined and overall triple combined categories. She was second in the overall Alpine title race. Fellow youth women riders Belle Brockhoff was first in the boardercross event, and Skylar Weir placed first in the halfpipe. Weir also was second in the overall freestyle standings and third in the overall combined.

Steamboat's Will Peddie picked up a gold medal in the very competitive youth men's boardercross event, and Carter Smalley topped the boardercross event in the Menehune boys division. Carter Smalley also was third in both halfpipe and slopestyle and second in the overall combined and overall triple combined standings.

Mimi Wienke won the open women's giant slalom race and was second in the slalom event. She tied for the top spot in the overall Alpine standings of her age division.

Other top Steamboat finishers included Erika DeLine, who was second in the youth women's boardercross; Mike Trapp, who was second in the giant slalom and third in the slalom in the open men's division; and Summer Smalley, who was second in the boardercross and third in both the slalom and giant slalom events. She also earned a third-place result in the overall Alpine standings.

Chloe Banning was third in the boardercross for open women, Taylor Gold was fourth in the halfpipe for youth men, and Tyler Andersen was fourth in the halfpipe for open men.


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