Steamboat Springs At this point in the year, most competitive freestyle skiers are beat up.
The grueling sports of halfpipe, slopestyle and ski cross have a way of separating out the best. On Sunday, Monday and Tuesday, the Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club again proved its worth, wrapping up the 2010-11 season at the United States of America Snowboard Association National Championships at Copper Mountain with multiple top finishes.
“The next step is a month or two of healing,” said Tony Lodico, a Winter Sports Club free ski coach. “It’s a brutal sport. Every one of those guys is limping.”
Lennon Vaughan led the way for Steamboat, picking up a win in the men’s 13-15 halfpipe. Jesse Pugh was eighth and Payton McElhiney was seventh in the boys 10-12 halfpipe. Conor Garrecht-Connelly was eighth in the men’s open halfpipe. Landen Mertz was 12th, and Penn Lukens was 13th.
“He’s finally figuring out how to make his body do what his mind wants to,” Lodico said about Vaughan. “It’s just time. I think he really enjoys it. He goes out and does it on his free time.”
In the slopestyle competition, Payton McElhiney led the way with a third-place finish in the boys 10-12 group. Gracy Whelihan was fourth in the girls 16-18 group, and Pugh was fifth in the boys 13-15 group.
“It was a great season,” Lodico said. “For those kids, making it to the end is a testament to their toughness.”
Jaelin Kauf led the way for Steamboat in ski cross. The moguls skier placed first in the women’s 13-15 age group, with Lesley Wilson fifth and Maggie McElhiney sixth.
Peter White was third in the men’s 13-15 category, and Logan Banning finished seventh.
Brant Crossan had an impressive fifth-place finish in the highly competitive men’s open division.
Crossan won the time trial and every heat he was in, but he overshot a jump in the finals.
“The thing about ski cross is it’s such a game of experience,” said Brett Buckles, head ski cross coach for the Winter Sports Club. “Every time you go out with four or six people, you gain so much experience. The more times you get to do that, the better you get.”