Steamboat Springs Tyler Jewell and Lindsay Lloyd raced to national parallel giant slalom titles Friday afternoon on the slopes of Steamboat Ski Area during the first of two Race to the Cup NorAm Alpine snowboarding events.
“I’m super grateful that I came out on top,” Jewell said after the race. “Vic is a great rider, and it was a tight race for the title.”
Jewell, who trained in Steamboat Springs leading up to his first Olympic appearance in 2006, faced former Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club teammate Vic Wild in the finals. Wild took a small advantage after the first run but could not hold off two-time Olympian Jewell in the second. A couple of small mistakes at the top of the course opened the door, and Jewell raced through.
“I made a mistake coming onto the flats on the second run,” Wild said. “Tyler had been riding well all day, and that was all he needed.”
Jewell said he struggled in his first run of the finals but came out hard in the second with hopes of making a run at Wild’s lead.
“This course is a little shorter than most,” Jewell said. “You had to be going hard right out of the gate. Vic is a great rider, and this was a great race.”
Wild said many American riders have had little support at the national level this season, so he has been working on his own to stay at a high level. Still, he thinks that will need to change next year if he wants to remain competitive.
“All I really need is a little more support and a few more training opportunities,” Wild said. “I know that I could be one of the top five riders in the world, but you just can’t do it on your own.”
For Jewell, Friday’s win was bittersweet. He learned March 20 that Jesse Masterpool, the 14-year-old son of one of his longtime coaches, had died after a motocross accident. Masterpool was considered one of the top young riders in the country in his sport and had won a national title.
“I lived with that family and knew him really well,” Jewell said. “It’s been weighing on me the past several days, and I just wanted to ride fast for Jesse’s memory.”
Jewell said he would miss today’s parallel slalom to attend Masterpool’s funeral in Texas.
Jewell and Wild were not the only racers with ties to Steamboat Springs competing for a title Friday. The four riders who advanced to the semifinals of Friday’s event have trained or are training with the Winter Sports Club.
Jewell defeated his former Steamboat teammate Darren Ratcliffe in the finals, and Wild moved past current Winter Sports Club rider Michael Trapp in his bid for the title.
Ratcliffe, who knocked off two-time Olympian Chris Klug in the round of eight, beat Trapp in the consolation finals to finish third.
Lloyd, of Salt Lake City, topped Canadian rider Alexa Loo in the finals of the women’s parallel giant slalom to win the U.S. title and the NorAm race.
“It’s been a good year,” Lloyd said. “I started off really well. I had some injuries in the middle, and this kind of brings back some confidence, and it feels good.”
Canadian Megan Farrell came from behind in her second run to defeat American Heather Herde for third place. Steamboat rider Cassandra Wagar qualified for the finals and advanced to the round of eight before being knocked out by Lloyd. Steamboat rider Mimi Wiencke had hoped to ride in Friday’s races but pulled out because of a series of concussions suffered earlier this season.
The Race to the Cup will wrap up today on the slopes of Steamboat Ski Area with the men’s and women’s parallel slalom races. The event begins at 10 a.m. with qualifying on the Sitz/See Me ski run. Finals are scheduled to begin at 1 p.m.