Steamboat Springs Racers from Steamboat Springs dominated Friday’s Colorado Junior FIS Championships (Millennium Cup) at Howelsen Hill, claiming the top four spots and five of the top six spots in the men’s slalom race.
“Yeah, it was really exciting,” Ryan McConnell said about his second-place finish in Friday’s race. The event was scheduled to be a giant slalom at Steamboat Ski Area, but high winds that closed all the lifts forced organizers to make a few last-minute changes, including the location and type of race.
That didn’t slow the racers from Steamboat, who collected nearly all of the top spots. James Schindler led the charge by finishing the race with a two-run combined time of 1 minute, 21.67 seconds. McConnell was second at 1:21.83, Scott Ptach was third at 1:23.48, and Tyler Theis was fourth at 1:23.77. Vail’s Christoph Niederhauser broke up the Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club run with his fifth-place finish, but Steamboat’s Brant Crossan was sixth in the field of 85 racers.
“It was still a little windy at the top, but it didn’t cause too many problems from the racers’ standpoint,” McConnell said. “There’s a little different approach to the different races, and we had to hurry to get our equipment ready for a slalom. But once we were on the hill, it was all about racing.”
On the women’s side, Vail’s Anne Strong led the field with a time of 1:23.51. Winter Park’s Rylee Burrows was second at 1:26.70, and Elizabeth Strong, also of Vail, was third at 1:27.59.
Ciar Colgan was the top Steamboat finisher in sixth place at 1:28.49. Teammate Katie Hostetler was seventh, Sarah White was eighth, and Natalie Pearl came in ninth.
Deb Armstrong, Steamboat Springs Alpine competitive director, said it was an awesome day of racing in Steamboat thanks to the work of coaches and volunteers who were able to make the event possible after high winds nearly canceled it earlier in the day.
“I have seen worse conditions before, but never a grander effort,” Armstrong said Friday in an e-mail for members of the skiing community and the city. “The highest praise goes out to everyone for pulling off a spectacular, epic Colorado race day. For some it was beyond their comfort level, for others they thrived, bottom line — the ski racers got a start and we had a good race. I cannot say enough for the coaches, the administration, the city, the volunteers, the officials and the athletes for showing amazing flexibility, expertise and will. I doubt there is … a club or a community in the country that could have pulled off what you all did today.”