Photo by John F. Russell
Steamboat Springs snowboard racer Darren Ratcliffe takes an aggressive line in the qualifying round of the Race to the Cup NorAm event in January at Howelsen Hill. Ratcliffe and several other top American riders are expected to highlight an elite international field at this year’s events.
Thursday, November 26, 2009
If you go
What: Race to the Cup
When: Dec. 11 and 12
Where: Howelsen Hill
Who: Top international snowboarders from the United States, Germany, Austria, Slovenia, Korea and Japan.
Details: Finals for the Dec. 11 event begin at 6 p.m.; finals for the Dec. 12 event begin at 2:30 p.m.
Steamboat Springs Timing is everything in the sport of snowboarding.
Thedo Remmelink, the Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club’s Pro-Am Race coach, understands that better than most.
Maybe that’s why he is so excited about December and the timing of key events in Colorado.
The coach is hoping the club and his athletes can take advantage of the great timing of several events to showcase their talents and continue to move up the international ladder that leads to the Olympic Games.
“We normally hold our event the first week of January,” Remmelink said about a locally hosted Race to the Cup. “But we decided to move it up when we saw the World Cup schedule.”
This year, Steamboat’s Race to the Cup has been scheduled for Dec. 11 and 12 and falls between World Cup events in Limone Piemonte, Italy, and Telluride.
Remmelink said the move is paying off, with teams from Germany, Austria, Slovenia, Korea and Japan showing interest in being a part of the NorAm-level race in Steamboat Springs. NorAm means North American Tour.
“This may be one of the best fields we’ve ever had for a Race to the Cup,” Remmelink said. “A lot of teams have decided to fly in to Denver and will use the Race to the Cup to train before the races in Telluride.”
He said he expects the races to reward riders with top points and understands that a top finish on Howelsen Hill could turn into an opportunity to make this year’s Olympic team. But the Race to the Cup and the World Cup that follows from Dec. 17 to 20 in Telluride also will provide an opportunity for local riders to shine in the international spotlight.
“This race is crucial for the U.S. riders,” Remmelink said. “They will be racing for a spot in the U.S. World Cup and a chance to improve their standing.”
Jon Casson, Winter Sports Club snowboarding director, views the Steamboat event as a great way to feature Howelsen Hill and the sport of Alpine snowboard racing.
“Alpine snowboarding in the United States has a slightly smaller following than some of the other snowboarding events,” Casson said. “But the Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club has one of the top programs. This is our chance to showcase our team, showcase our coaches and showcase Howelsen Hill.”
The Race to the Cup will open with a parallel giant slalom Dec. 11 under the lights at Howelsen Hill. Qualifying will begin at 3 p.m. with the finals starting at 6 p.m.
The next day, riders will return to Howelsen for a parallel slalom event. Qualifying will take place between noon and 2 p.m. The finals are scheduled to begin at 2:30 p.m.
The snowboarding events also will provide the perfect stage for local athletes to chase their Olympic aspirations.
Casson said he expects several local riders to compete at the World Cup event in Telluride, which will feature Alpine and boardercross events.
Among the riders with Steamboat ties competing in Alpine events are Tyler Jewell, Justin Reiter, Erica Mueller, Madeline Wiencke, Mike Trapp, Darren Ratcliffe and Michelle Gorgone. The boardercross races also will feature several riders with local ties, including Mick Dierdorff, Jenna Feldman, Roger Carver and Callan Chythlook-Sifsof.
Organizers are looking for volunteers to help with the Race to the Cup events.
Anyone interested can e-mail Mimi Witcher at firstname.lastname@example.org