Today’s ski and snowboard cross race 1st of 4 in Steamboat |

Today’s ski and snowboard cross race 1st of 4 in Steamboat

Steamboat Springs skier Stefan Kowynia

— Ski and snowboard cross events take a little buy-in, Steam­­boat Springs Winter Sports Club coach Jon Casson explained.

"You really have to gain the experience in mixing it up," said Casson, the club's snowboard director and ski and snowboard cross coach.

Steamboat will have the chance to see just what it takes to be a champion in what has quickly become one of winter sports' most popular events starting today, as four days of competition kick off at Steam­boat Ski Area.

Today is the start of a two-day United States of America Snowboard Association event, and today and Sunday's events begin at 10 a.m.

The NorAm Hole Shot Cross tour stops in Steamboat on Wednesday and Thursday for a more prestigious event.

Ski and snowboard cross events start with all the racers in the field running the course to establish times. The leaders then are thrown into a bracket, and the herd is thinned as they race in packs of four. The top two from each race advance until the final four racers battle it out to establish the winners.

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It all takes place on a large course filled with treacherous hurdles such as steeply banked turns, berms and jumps.

"It has all the features I like about snowboarding, like jumping and going fast," Steamboat rider Savanna Atkins said.

The course is laid out starting from the flats above Bashor Bowl. A challenging trail weaves through the Mavericks Terrain Park, crosses the Beeline run and finishes at the bottom of Giggle Gulch, up against Right-O-Way.

"It was good, fun," Steamboat racer Spencer Vaughan said.

The USASA event today and Sunday is an amateur endeavor that was open to all. Registration has closed. There are some talented young athletes from the Winter Sports Club's freestyle snowboarding program, but also a collection of older competitors just trying things out.

Wednesday and Thursday's event, however, will bring a higher level of racer to town. The Hole Shot tour ranks just below the World Cup circuit and is packed with skiers and boarders eager to take that next step.

Among Steamboat's top entries will be skiers Brant Cros­­san, Penn Lukens and Matt Lar­­son. Chloe Banning, Jenna Feld­­man, Roger Carver, Mick Dier­­dorff and Alex Tuttle will challenge for the snowboard title.

"They're all good enough to win," Casson said. "They're all coming off good events at Mount Hood" in Oregon.


■ Today:  USASA ski and snowboard cross competition

■ Sunday:  USASA ski and snowboard cross competition

■ Tuesday: Training for NorAm Hole Shot Cross tour

■ Wednesday: NorAm Hole Shot Cross competition

■ Thursday: NorAm Hole Shot Cross competition

How to watch

The racecourse is in Bashor Bowl, below the top of the Christie Peak Ex­­press chairlift. Much of the area where the course is laid out will be blocked off. The start of the race and much of the upper portion can be seen by Jess’ Cutoff toward Vogue and stopping on the flats above See Me and Voo Doo.

To see the race’s finish line from the top of the Christie Peak Express, take Main Drag through Rough Rider and past the Thunderhead Ex­­press chairlift to Right-O-Way and follow that trail to the bottom of Giggle Gulch.

The races should start a little after 10 a.m. on competition days and wrap up by 2 p.m.

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