Cody Winters pulls off a grab during Thursday’s big air competition at Howelsen Hill in Steamboat Springs. Winters and his brother, Billy, both competed in the event, which organizers hope kicks off a long-running Town Challenge-style series of park competitions.

Photo by Joel Reichenberger

Cody Winters pulls off a grab during Thursday’s big air competition at Howelsen Hill in Steamboat Springs. Winters and his brother, Billy, both competed in the event, which organizers hope kicks off a long-running Town Challenge-style series of park competitions.

Park riders soar at Steamboat competition

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Nick Demarest flies through the air Thursday as a big air competition kicked off the four-event Steamboat Park Challenge competitions in Steamboat Springs. About 20 riders and skiers took three runs off a jump at Howelsen Hill, attempting to lay down their best tricks.

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Jarryd Hughes grabs his board as his flips through a trick on Thursday at a big air competition at Howelsen Hill in Steamboat Springs.

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Landon Mertz flies through a trick Thursday at the big air competition at Howelsen Hill.

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Shea McCarthy gets upside down Thursday at a big air competition in Steamboat Springs.

Results

Steamboat Park Challenge big air results

(Competitor, score of best trick)

■ Women’s skier open class

Bri Bogumill, 9.5

■ Men’s skier open class

Landen Mertz, 8.25

Josh Satterfield, 7.75

Logan Banning, 7.375

Nick Demarest, 7.25

Glenn Little II, 6.25

■ Men’s snowboard junior class

Billy Winters, 7.75

Cody Winters, 6.25

■ Men’s snowboard open class

Robbie Dapper, 9

David Edelman, 7.25

Trevor Burman, 6.75

Jarryd Hughes, 6.25

Ronnie Prado, 6.25

Ben Davies, 6.25

Shea McCarthy, 5.25

Tyler Zonies, 4.75

— The sun had slid away, the cold had set in, and, underneath a snowstorm that was oh-so-slowly beginning to unload, the first Steamboat Park Challenge had come and gone from Howelsen Hill in Steamboat Springs.

The competitors didn’t leave, however. As soon as the last competing snowboarder flew on his last scored ride Thursday, a stream of riders and skiers started to hike right back up to the launching point.

They hoofed it to the drop-in, an awkward point on a steep slope high above the actual jump, and squeezed everything they could out of the day, trying to one-up one another until organizers finally took to the public address system to end the day.

This — broad, enthusiastic participation and crowd-wowing tricks — had been the plan the whole time.

“We were trying to create a cool, fun, local competition,” co-organizer Jon Casson said. “The vibe was really cool, and everyone was really stoked on it. That was a great start.”

Fun stuff

Casson is as through-and-through a snowboarder as can be found in Steamboat Springs.

He moved to the city to teach the sport in the mid-1990s and today is the program director for the Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club’s snowboarding wing. He quickly tires of people referring to a boarder’s day on Mount Werner as “skiing” and, at 39, is proud to still be plugged into the seemingly always-young snowboarding culture, right down to the baggy clothes.

“I’m a kid at heart,” he said, laughing. “My teenage years were really fun. I’ve grown up, but for some reason, I’m still pretty in touch with what it’s like to be a teenager.”

He still hits Steamboat’s terrain parks whenever he can, too. An active participant in the summer’s uber-popular mountain biking Town Challenge series, he’s well aware of that event’s supportive all-ages, all-comers atmosphere and, with fellow local snowboard instructor Dave Troussard, set out to bring it to the winter’s terrain park fanatics.

“Snowboarding and freeskiing in the park, that stuff’s fun, and that’s what we wanted to promote,” Casson said.

Great competition

About 20 skiers and riders of a variety of skill levels took to the hill Thursday.

Some were early in their careers.

Brothers Billy and Cody Winters are regulars on the Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club’s snowboarding teams, competing whenever they can in slopestyle events and mixing it up earlier this year for snowboard cross competition.

They competed against each other in the snowboard juniors division. They were some of Thursday’s youngest competitors, with Billy at 13 years old and Cody at 10, but they flew.

Billy won by executing a 360 on his first jump and a 540 later.

Cody, meanwhile, stood out with big air and plenty of grabs, a mute and a big method air.

Watching their elders proved as rewarding as showing off their own tricks.

“It was a lot of fun,” Billy said. “It was cool watching all the other people.”

The day didn’t belong to the children, however. Neither did it belong to the boys.

Bri Bogumill was Thursday’s only female competitor. She teaches terrain park lessons at Steamboat Ski Area and decided late to register for the event.

“I only decided to do it an hour before,” said Bogumill, 31. “It’s important to prove to myself that I still do stuff like this, even though I’m older than a lot of the other people out here.”

The skier struggled at first with the larger of the two jumps made available for the competition, but shifted over to the smaller jump and flew on her last attempt.

She won her division, of course, but afterward was hoping it wouldn’t be so easy at the next event, a slopestyle competition set for March 6.

“I know at least five more girls who will be at that slopestyle,” Bogumill said. “Why should the guys be the only ones out here having fun?”

More to come

If all goes according to plan, Thursday’s action will be only the start.

Three more Steamboat Park Challenge events are scheduled for this season. The slopestyle event March 6 will run through the Rabbit Ears Terrain Park at Steamboat Ski Area. Another big air event is March 10, again at Howelsen. The series will wrap up March 20 with a final slopestyle event on Mount Werner at the Rabbit Ears park.

“I was really happy with how it went. That was a great kickoff for something we’ve been working on for a long time,” Casson said. “We had 17 people, and now hopefully they’ll all go out and say how much fun it was. We’re hoping to get 40 or 50 people at the next events.

“This isn’t a ‘beat up your friend’ kind of competition. It’s a ‘support your friend’ kind of thing. We just want everyone to go bigger and do new tricks.”

— To reach Joel Reichenberger, call 970-871-4253 or e-mail jreichenberger@SteamboatToday.com

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