It was a far different atmosphere than, say, the 2010 U.S. Winter Olympic Team Trials freestyle events that visited Steamboat Springs last month.
Then, competitors were identified by their World Cup achievements and previous Olympic experience. On Sunday at Howelsen Hill, competitors took to the slopes and were identified by their grade, the size of their family or their favorite pets.
There was Luke the dog and Whiskers the gerbil. And just like at the trials last month, there were a lot of skiers doing their best to go big.
The Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club was well represented in Sunday’s Steamboat Devo Freestyle event at Howelsen.
“It was a great competition today by all the Steamboat kids out there,” freestyle coach Cory Prager said. “We had a lot of great results.”
The club was led by division-winning skiers Becca Alfone and Teague Burger.
Alfone won the J3 girls division, just beating out teammate Phoebe Troup.
A treacherous course claimed many victims on the day, young skiers sliding to their backs on a tough section of bumps above the course’s one jump, or falling hard on what proved a difficult landing. Alfone said she did her best to make her trip down as smooth as possible.
“I started and was really nervous, but as I got down, I realized, ‘Hey, this is easy. It’s just like practice,’” she said.
Troup had a hair more trouble, but both filed some of the best runs of the day.
“It was kind of icy and there were a couple of ruts, but it was definitely fun,” Troup said.
Teague Burger, meanwhile, won the J6 boys division.
McKenyon King and Payton McElhiney also came up big for the Winter Sports Club in the J5 boys division.
King was second, behind Winter Park’s Tanner Lyle. McElhiney, meanwhile, was third.
“It was pretty nice,” King said. “It was a little icy, but I liked it. I just went hard.”
McElhiney threw a 720 for the trick on his second run. The difficulty of that trick, combined with a smooth and fast run through the bumps, helped him reach the podium in a crowded event. All told, 94 skiers took part.
“I only did it once in warm-ups,” McElhiney said of the 720. “It felt so much different than my (360). I just had to throw myself.”
— To reach Joel Reichenberger, call 871-4253 or e-mail email@example.com