Luke Graham: Rising programs |

Luke Graham: Rising programs

Luke Graham

Luke Graham

— For years and especially in the not so distant past, Steamboat Springs' Olympic aspirations has been almost exclusively related to its Nordic combined team.

And rightfully so.

The Nordic combined guys dominated the last Olympics and won medals in the process. At previous Olympic games they came close.

With about two years until the next Olympic games in Sochi, Russia, it's safe to assume the Nordic combined team again will be well represented by a Steamboat contingent.

But when looking at things this week, it definitely won't just be the Nordic combined team that represents Steamboat in Sochi.

Looking at athletes in the Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club's freestyle moguls and snowboarding programs, there are a few athletes that could represent the town in two years.

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In freestyle moguls, it's very possible to see a majority of the team be from Steamboat or call Steamboat their home base.

Jeremy Cota and Eliza Outtrim already are on the A Team. Ryan Dyer and Brittany Loweree are on the C Team and have the real possibility of moving up in the next couple of years.

There also are multiple athletes just below that also could make their way onto the team in the next two years.

In snowboarding, Matt Ladley could become a household name in the next year. Taylor and Arielle Gold both could be on the A Team in the next two years, and Nik Baden, at just 13, already is one of the best snowboarders in his age group.

Add in snowboard cross athletes Mick Dierdorff and Chloe Banning, who both will compete in World Cups this season, and there is the chance Steamboat's Olympics won't just feature Nordic combined athletes.

It's not hard to see why. In each instance, the Winter Sports Club programs have dedicated coaches at every level.

But even more so, it's the facilities the Winter Sports Club offers that make it one of the premier clubs in the nation.

The water ramps at Bald Eagle Lake and the moguls course on Mayer's Mogul Run on Voo Doo ski run at Steamboat Ski Area provide unique advantages.

But it's Howelsen Hill that makes the programs a step above. Go over any night after 5 p.m. and the area is buzzing.

There the snowboard team can work on gates under the lights, and the freestyle moguls team can flip away into the night.

So while Steamboat has been recognized for its accomplishments in Nordic combined — and correctly so with the previous success — Steamboat's biggest ambitions might not be with the team.

It very well could be that in two years, it's a moguls skier or snowboarder that's standing on the podium.

To reach Luke Graham, call 970-871-4229 or email

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