Steamboat Springs Steamboat Springs might be known across the world as Ski Town USA, but on Monday night, it was the Austrians who felt right at home on Howelsen Hill’s steep pitches.
The Austrian men’s snowboard team swept the podium and the women’s squad took two out of three steps on the podium during the Race to the Cup NorAm parallel giant slalom.
American Vic Wild and Switzerland’s Patrizia Kummer were the only riders to threaten the Austrians during a race held in difficult conditions and a steady dumping of snow.
But the Austrians took first, second and third in the men’s finals behind a top showing from Benjamin Karl, who knocked out Americans Tyler Jewell in the quarterfinals and Wild in the semifinals. Karl’s teammates Anton Unterkofler finished second, and Andreas Prommegger took third. Wild still had a shot at the podium in the small finals but was unable to catch Prommegger on his final run. Wild let his anger show by throwing his board to the snow after his race, but the anger was directed at himself.
“You know, I could have had a good night,” Wild said. “I know I’m one of the best riders in the world, and with a bit more support, I feel like I could have beat those guys tonight. I’m pissed off at myself that I didn’t do it. I think I could have done better.”
The Austrians also dominated on the women’s side with Julia Dujmovits leading the way in the finals. She beat teammate Heidi Neururer to win the competition. The Austrians knocked several American riders out of the finals, including Steamboat’s Madeline Wiencke, who lost to Dujmovits in the first round of the finals. Lynn Ott fell to Neururer in the round of 16, and the Austrian also ousted Heather Herde in the round of eight.
But Switzerland’s Kummer came closest to slipping past the Austrians. She lost a close race to Neururer in the semifinals, but rebounded to beat Austrian Sabine Schoeffmann.
As a team, the Austrians qualified seven riders for the women’s finals. The United States and Canada each had three riders in the finals. Switzerland had two, and Germany had one.
On the men’s side, the Austrians sent six riders to the finals, with Canada a close second with five. Switzerland and Japan each had one. Steamboat rider Michael Trapp joined Wild and Jewell in the finals to give the Americans three slots. Trapp, an up-and-coming rider with the U.S. team, nearly won his first round in the finals, but the difficult conditions at Howelsen gave the more experienced Unterkofler a slight advantage.
“I was hoping to make it through the first round (of the finals), but my first run got a little bumpy and a little hectic going down. It was a complete rodeo tonight,” Trapp said. “On the second run I was just going for it and missed by just a few tenths.”
The international field will return this morning for the parallel slalom race. The event will be the final stop of the Race to the Cup NorAm in Steamboat. Qualifying races are scheduled to begin at 10 a.m., and the finals are slated for 1 p.m. at Howelsen.