Freestyle skiers test talents at Howelsen


— Erik Skinner likes to think of the Rocky Mountain Division Development Series as a prelude of things to come.

On Sunday, freestyle skiing fans can catch a glimpse of the future in Steamboat Springs as some of the top athletes ages 8 to 12 test their skills on the bumps lining the face of Howelsen Hill.

"This is where our younger skiers get their first taste of competition," Skinner said. "It's where they learn what it takes to be successful in the Rocky Mountain Division's competitive series."

Skinner, director for the Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club's freestyle program, is expecting more than 100 freestyle skiers from Steamboat Springs, Winter Park, Aspen, Durango, Telluride and Summit County to compete Sunday.

The Steamboat event is scheduled to start at 10:15 a.m. and will be a "singles" mogul event. The skiers will compete on a 120-meter course with one air (the trick judged off a preset jump). The standard course for older skiers is usually 240 meters, with two airs.

The other main difference is that skiers in the development event will not be judged on speed. The younger skiers' scores will reflect turns and the lone air.

"We don't want this to be as competitive as the events for our older athletes," Skinner said. "We are not concerned with speed in this age group."

This event is also a chance for skiers from Steamboat Springs to compete at home. He said the Winter Sports Club has a core group of younger skiers who compete at all the development division events (typically there are seven each winter across the division) but for a few of the skiers in his program, Sunday's event will mark their only chance to compete this winter.

"We have a group of athletes and their parents who travel to all of the development events, but they don't have to do that at this age," Skinner said.

Top results from Aspen

Steamboat's older skiers just returned from a competition in Aspen where several skiers rose to the top of the pack.

Michael DeGrandis won his first Rocky Mountain Division meet Monday when he topped the men's dual mogul event in Aspen.

DeGrandis moved past Winter Park's Branden Goldenberg in the finals. Steamboat's Ryan Dyer was third, Lars Johnson placed fourth, Luke Kamieniecki placed fifth, and Taylor Miller finished seventh.

Vail's Kristi Waring defeated Steamboat's Alison Crowe in the finals to win the women's dual moguls. Steamboat's Shelby Dyer was sixth, Montana O'Neill was eighth and Jessica Mader was ninth.

On Sunday, the Steamboat skiers competed in a "singles" mogul competition in Aspen. Steamboat's Ryan Dyer highlighted the local results by winning both of the men's events. Dyer topped a pair of Winter Park skiers in the first event. Derek Lawson was second, and Brandon Cronin was third. Other Steamboat finishers included DeGrandis in fourth, Johnson in fifth, Kamieniecki in seventh and Dalton Lee in eighth.

Steamboat took two of the top three positions in the second moguls competition. Dyer won, and teammate Kamieniecki was third. DeGrandis finished sixth, Johnson was eighth, and Lee came in tenth.

Vail skier Heidi Kloser dominated the women's events in Aspen. She topped Waring in both events. Winter Park skier Ashley Cronin was third in the first event, and her teammate Alyssa Lawson was third in the second event.

Steamboat finishers in the first event included Crowe in fourth, Shelby Dyer in sixth and Mader in 11th. Crowe picked up another fourth-place finish in the second event and was followed by teammates Shelby Dyer in fifth and Mader in eighth.


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