Steamboat Springs The snowboarding season is coming to a close, but several riders from Steamboat Springs are hoping to gain an edge before it's done.
Snowboardcross racer Mick Dierdorff, 17, led the way last week in Mont Tremblant, Quebec, where he won the overall title for the North American race series.
Dierdorff was second in the final race in the NorAm series and captured the top spot.
"It's a huge opportunity," Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club program director Jon Casson said.
By winning the overall title, Dierdorff earns the right to start next season on the World Cup tour and to possibly punch his ticket to the 2010 Olympic Games in Vancouver.
"He has had an amazing season," Casson said. "He's been consistent all season, and this is what he gets for his effort."
Dierdorff finished second to Canadian rider Francois Boivin in the race and was the only American rider to be represented in the top 10 at the event. Fellow American rider Robert Minghini was 12th and Alex Deibold, an American who was in a neck-and-neck race with Dierdorff for the title headed into the event, fell to 13th.
Several Alpine snowboarders from the Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club also are celebrating top finishes following the NorAm finals at Mont Tremblant and USASA races this week in Copper Mountain.
Darren Ratcliffe earned the national title in the parallel giant slalom at the USA Snowboarding Association championships in Copper Mountain on Tuesday. Teammate Mike Trapp was third in the open class race.
In the women's race, Madeline Wiencke was second, and teammate Cassie Wagar was fourth.
On Monday, Trapp won the men's parallel slalom race for the open class. His teammate Josh Banks was sixth.
"It was flat and round, which is what we've been training lately," Trapp said. "I was used to it, so I could go for it. I didn't really worry about the competition, and I just did my own thing."
Trapp has won national titles at the USASA in 2005 and 2007. He was second and third in races last season at the national championships. He said the prize money and recognition he gets from these events will help him pay some bills next season.
"This is going to pay for some races next season," Trapp said. "It's going to be a big help financially."
Wiencke won the women's slalom, and Mueller was third at Copper.
The races came on the heels of several key races in Canada last week, which determined finishes for the NorAm race series and the U.S. National finals.
Canadian Jasey Jay Anderson won the slalom event and was followed by teammate Patrick Farrell in second in a race held April 1. The top American was Josh Wylie, a former SSWSC rider, who finished in third place overall.
Chris Klug, a 2002 Olympic bronze medalist, placed fourth and was second in the national title race, and Steamboat's Ratcliffe was fifth overall and third in the national title race.
The women's race was won by Canadian Alexa Loo with her teammate, and another former Steamboat Springs rider, Kimiko Zakreski in second. American rider Lynn Ott won the U.S. National title and was third overall.
Mueller placed fourth in the overall standings and second among American riders. Wiencke was ninth overall and third among American riders in the event.
Anderson also won the men's giant slalom race, which was held March 31. The top Americans were Klug in third, Wylie in fifth and Ratcliffe in ninth overall.
The women's race was won by Loo. Caroline Calve was second, Lindsay Lloyd was third, Ekaterina Zavialova was fourth and Mueller came in fifth.
"It was decent," Mueller said about the NorAm finals. "I qualified second for the parallel giant slalom, but I fell in my second run."
Mueller plans to train in Steamboat Springs with coach Thedo Remmelink through next winter and is almost certain that she's earned a spot for key World Cup races early next season.