Steamboat boarders fly high in July | SteamboatToday.com

Steamboat boarders fly high in July

Steamboat Springs snowboarders Jake Suchowski, Rowan Drake and Meredith Connor spent a week working earlier this month at Mount Hood, Oregon.

Olympic gold medalists soared up and down the halfpipe at Oregon's Mount Hood, and a trio of Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club riders certainly noticed.

Meredith Connor, 17, Jake Suchowski, 14, and Rowan Drake, 13, all hope to accomplish big things in their careers some day, but standing face-to-face with some athletes who already had accomplished those big things, they couldn't help but be impressed.

"They were so excited," said Maddy Schaffrick, snowboard coach for the Winter Sports Club.

Stars such as Shaun White carved up the pipe, preparing for the looming 2018 Winter Olympics in PyeongChang, South Korea.

PyeongChang won't be a target for the Steamboat group, but Schaffrick said her riders were still able to log plenty of solid training alongside those who were looking to strike gold this winter.

They spent a week in Oregon, where snow lingers and a halfpipe still stands high on the shoulders of Mount Hood.

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The first step, Schaffrick said, was a refresher course after several months away from the snow.

"It was really about refreshing muscle memory," she said. "They got back on snow and got back the tricks they were doing at the end of last year, so when they get back on snow again in a few months, those tricks will come back quickly."

For the higher-end athletes working out nearby, a summer session on Mount Hood is an opportunity to take advantage of soft snow to fine tune the new tricks that will likely be required to make a run this winter to the Olympics.

The same logic applied to the Steamboat riders.

"A lot can happen at Hood because of the soft, slushy conditions," said Schaffrick, a longtime member of the U.S. halfpipe team, herself. "That usually takes some of the fear out of it, because you're not landing on ice, you're just playing in slush."

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

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