Steamboat Springs After spending last season recovering from knee surgery, a pair of top-five results last week at NorAm events at Copper Mountain was just what the doctor ordered for Steamboat Springs Alpine snowboarder Justin Reiter.
“It wasn’t a World Cup, but it was a strong field with a lot of top international riders,” Reiter said.
The Race to the Cup events were Thursday and Friday at Copper. The events, which are part of a series that includes two stops in Steamboat Springs this winter, drew other top riders from the United States, Canada, Switzerland, Sweden, Japan, Korea, Great Britain and Korea. The field included riders such as Canadian Jasey Jay Anderson, Swiss rider Simon Schoch and Austrian Siegfried Grabner.
Problems with timing forced Thursday’s opening event, originally scheduled as a parallel giant slalom, to be changed into a two-run, giant slalom race. Reiter said it was frustrating to spend close to eight hours on the hill, hoping officials could fix the problem. But the move wasn’t all bad news for the rider from Steamboat Springs, who is trying to ease back into competition early this winter. Reiter said the two-run format of Thursday’s event was much easier on his knee than competing in 10 runs (the number it takes to get to the finals) on back-to-back days.
“The knee is good right now, but I understand that competing in back-to-back events is going to be very demanding on my knee,” Reiter said.
The Steamboat snowboarder said he has been working with coach Thedo Remmelink to make clean runs and to avoid putting any added pressure on his knee in training and warm-up runs.
Reiter said the knee was not a factor in either of last week’s races.
He placed second in the opening event and was the top American in the field. Schoch, the 2006 Olympic silver medalist, won the race. Top U.S. riders included Adam Smith in third, Tyler Jewell in ninth and Josh Wylie in 10th. Jewell and Wylie have trained in Steamboat.
Michelle Gorgone, who also trained in Steamboat from 2000 to 2001, won the women’s race. Canadian Kimiko Zakreski, who also spent a winter in Steamboat, finished second, and Japan’s Tomoka Takeuchi was third. Steamboat’s Erica Mueller was sixth, and Madeline Wiencke was 14th.
On Friday, the timing issues were fixed, and the riders got a chance to compete in the more traditional parallel giant slalom race.
Anderson topped the field by edging teammate Matthew Morison. Reiter picked up another top finish, placing fourth. He was the top American in the race.
Chris Klug was seventh, Patrick Farrell finished eighth and Jewell was ninth.
“I made two small mistakes in critical rounds,” Reiter said about his race. “I’m riding well right now, and if I can clean up the mistakes, I will be in the finals.”
Swiss rider Fraenzi Maegert-Kohli won the women’s race. American Lindsay Lloyd was the top American in second place. Gorgone collected her second top finish of the week with a fifth, and Mueller was seventh.
The riders are preparing to leave for a Dec. 6 World Cup event in Limone Piemonte, Italy.