Matt Ladley competes in a 2011 Sprint U.S. Snowboarding Grand Prix event. A Dew Tour event and four Grand Prix events stand between Ladley and the 2014 Olympics. He was among six Steamboat Springs athletes named to the U.S. Snowboard Team and hopes to be one of four men named to the Olympic half-pipe team.

Tom Zikas/courtesy

Matt Ladley competes in a 2011 Sprint U.S. Snowboarding Grand Prix event. A Dew Tour event and four Grand Prix events stand between Ladley and the 2014 Olympics. He was among six Steamboat Springs athletes named to the U.S. Snowboard Team and hopes to be one of four men named to the Olympic half-pipe team.

6 Steamboat Springs athletes named to US Snowboard Team

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— It didn’t come as a surprise to anyone monitoring the results, and certainly the athletes knew what was in store.

Nevertheless, there’s something sweet about browsing the list of riders named Tuesday to the U.S. Snowboarding Team, something sweet for Steamboat Springs, anyway.

2014 U.S. Snowboarding Team

Half-pipe pro team

Gretchen Bleiler

Greg Bretz

Kelly Clark

Benji Farrow, Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club

Arielle Gold, Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club

Elena Hight

Ellery Hollingsworth

Matt Ladley, Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club

Scotty Lago

Luke Mitrani

Maddy Schaffrick, Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club

Hannah Teter

Louie Vito

Half-pipe rookie team

Nik Baden, Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club

Ben Ferguson

Gabe Ferguson

Taylor Gold, Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club

Chase Josey

Chloe Kim

Kyle Mack

Maddie Mastro

Serena Shaw

Slope-style pro team

Eric Beauchemin

Chas Guldemond

Jessika Jenson

Jordie Karlinski

Sage Kotsenburg

Ryan Stassel

Ty Walker

Eric Willett

Ski Town USA landed six riders on the 30-person team, including four on the top-tier pro team. Matt Ladley and Benji Farrow made the men’s half-pipe pro team, and Arielle Gold and Maddy Schaffrick were named to the women’s pro team.

Nik Baden and Taylor Gold, meanwhile, were listed with the half-pipe rookie team.

“I have to say, Steamboat Springs is one of my favorite towns, especially as they keep generating more talented athletes coming our way to team USA,” U.S. half-pipe coach Mike Jankowski said Wednesday. “You have to give a huge amount of credit to the program in Steamboat, the coaches and really to the Steamboat community as a whole.”

For all those athletes, this season will be defined, at least in part, by a drive to make the 2014 Olympics, set for February in Sochi, Russia.

That process finally took to snow Wednesday in Colorado as the 22-foot super-pipe at Copper Mountain was unveiled.

“A brand new half-pipe always has a couple kinks, but overall, it’s in good shape,” said Ladley, who was named to the U.S. team for a sixth time and to the pro squad for the third consecutive year.

“You always feel pressure, and even without the Olympics, we are still doing big contests that mean a lot.”

The march to Russia begins next month with two of five selections events. The first is the Dew Tour Mountain Championships from Dec. 12 to 15 in Breckenridge. The first of four Grand Prix events follows from Dec. 16 to 21 at Copper Mountain.

“These next months are going to be really busy, and I’m definitely going to be working hard,” Ladley said. “It’s going to be a ton of riding, and we have a lot of really good snowboarders this year, so it will be interesting.”

One thing that is relieving, he said, is beginning that process on a team deep with his friends, many of whom he’s been riding and competing with for most of his life.

“It’s really cool there are so many Steamboat kids,” he said. “Steamboat does such a good job with supporting the talented athletes that come out of our town. Obviously, we have an amazing winter sports program, and we have a lot of great kids, so that’s really cool.”

To reach Joel Reichenberger, call 970-871-4253, email jreichenberger@SteamboatToday.com or follow him on Twitter @JReich9

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