Saturday full of fun, fine-tuning at the Steamboat Cup |

Saturday full of fun, fine-tuning at the Steamboat Cup

Ben Ingersoll

Beck Kuhlmann, 11, races down the giant slalom course Saturday at Steamboat Ski Area for his second run of the Steamboat Cup.

— Saturday's Steamboat Cup at Steamboat Ski Area simply was meant to be a fun learning opportunity for Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club Alpine skiers, and judging by the smiles at the base of the giant slalom course, the group of youngsters was soaking it all in.

U12 and U14 Winter Sports Club boys and girls took to Bashor at the ski area, nearly 70 skiers in all. Ribbons were up for grabs, but Winter Sports Club Alpine Director Deb Armstrong, with video camera in tow all day, said the competition was hardly a competition at all but rather a way for the team to fine-tune some techniques and enjoy the home course.

"For my purposes, these are practice races," Armstrong said. “The kids are learning how to race. There's learning how to train, and there's learning how to race."

In the U12 girls group, 11-year-old Molly Mueller used a first-run time of 32.67 seconds to take first, edging out second-place Ryli Adrian and third-place Ellie Gober.

In both U12 and U14 boys, a familiar last name emerged atop the list of competitors. Cooper Puckett, 10, was first in the U12 division, winning by almost two seconds at 29.83 seconds. Finn Sadler was second at 31.80 seconds, and Leo Davies grabbed third.

Thirteen-year-old Cole Puckett was first in U14 boys with the day's top run, slicing through the Bashor course in 29.04 seconds. Trey Seymour was second in the group at 30.05.

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The U14 girls division was crowded at the top, with less than a second separating the top three finishers. Riley A. Smith, 12, was first in 31 seconds flat, followed closely by second-place Margaret P. Dickson in 31.14 seconds and Amber Elliott in 31.91 seconds.

"It's really fun to just come out here," Cole Puckett said, noting he slowly is getting giant slalom down. "It's not a really big race, but it's fun to just be around your friends."

The friendly competition showed at the base of the course, as skier after skier would stick around and shout encouragement to teammates traversing the GS slope lined with family and friends. While the skiers were competing — and laughing among their friends at the bottom — their coaches were busy at midcourse, critiquing their athletes' form.

"There's a lot of tactics at play on a GS course," Armstrong said, adding that Bashor's setup presented some challenging turns. "Alpine ski racing is really, really sophisticated. It's more complex than most people realize, and it actually takes many years to master it, if you ever do."

Armstrong said there were no surprises Saturday with a group varying from beginners to proven GS skiers. The team is in the heart of its schedule, and much more meaningful races are on the horizon.

Saturday's giant slalom was just one of the three Alpine Steamboat Cups on schedule, but the Winter Sports Club’s first Rocky Mountain Division race is slated for next weekend in Aspen.

Saturday’s event “kind of gets some of the bugs out before that regional race," Armstrong said.

To reach Ben Ingersoll, call 970-871-4204, email or follow him on Twitter @BenMIngersoll


View results from Saturday’s Steamboat Cup here.

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