Howelsen homecoming continues to hold special place for Roberts family | SteamboatToday.com

Howelsen homecoming continues to hold special place for Roberts family

A ski racer makes her way down the face of Howelsen Hill during last year's Holiday Classic ski race. The event is now named after Murphy Roberts, a former Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club skier who died unexpectedly in 2016 at the age of 22.

For Cassady Roberts, the Holiday Classic has always been more like a homecoming than an FIS-level Alpine ski race.

"The Holiday Classic is most special to me because once we all went off to college… we would come home for Christmas and all do the Holiday Classic," Roberts said of the race. "It was like the welcome home."

Roberts, who now works with the Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club as a U12 coach, said going to watch ski racing at Howelsen Hill in the days before Christmas is something that she would do with her older brother, Dylan, her twin brother Hig and her younger brother Murphy. She said she still recalls heading to the races when she was in middle school, years before she was old enough to actually step into the starting gate to watch college-level ski racers compete on her home hill. She said the races inspired conversations with her brothers about the colleges they hoped to race for. She eventually got to race in the events at Howelsen, and would return for the races when she was attending Colby College in Maine. 

"It was always a really cool way to see college racers and get that exposure and it kind of sparked my interest, but also all of my brothers’ interest, in being a college racer. The fact that we have all these collegiate racers coming to our town and we get to watch them is a great way to get exposure to that level of racing," Roberts said. "We always talked about the colleges we wanted to go to, and where we wanted to ski. It was a great motivator in high school."

The race was something the Roberts racers did as a family, which is one of the reasons Cassady is thrilled that the event has been named after her brother Murphy, who died in August 2016 following a hiking accident in Southern Utah.

"It means so much to our family," Roberts said of the Murphy Roberts Holiday Classic, which kicks off Wednesday. "We feel very honored that the Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club agreed to change the name and to honor him." 

Recommended Stories For You

She said the races, and the location embodied the things her brother loved about our mountain community.  She said it means so much to her that his name will forever be  connected  to a race that reflects the things that Murphy loved about our town, and in particular Howelsen Hill, where he spent most of his childhood skiing, hiking and exploring.

This year’s Murphy Roberts Holiday Classic will feature one of the largest prize purses and awards packages outside of the National Championships, thanks to a new partnership with the T2 Foundation, a nonprofit organization that supports Alpine, cross-country and freestyle skiers.

As a result of T2's participation, the race will offer a purse of close to $10,000. Prize money will be awarded to the top three finishers in the Dec. 21 and Dec. 22 races. First place will take home $1,250, second will earn $500 and third will collect $250 in the races. There will also be a $250 award to the top U19 racer in the field for both of those races.

"We are thrilled to become a part of this iconic race and hope to forge a long-term collaboration with the Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club that helps continue to elevate and sustain the Murphy Roberts Holiday Classic races into the future," said Marina Knight of T2.

In addition, the Winter Sports Club, in collaboration with the Roberts Family, will be unveiling the "Murphy Roberts Holiday Classic Award” wth a $1,000 cash prize. That prize will be given to a junior ski racer from Colorado who demonstrates a passion for Alpine ski racing, while selflessly providing a level of enthusiasm and support for teammates in a way that stands out among the field of eligible racers,

"My brother Murphy exuded positive energy and lifted up those around him," Hig Roberts said. "Murphy and my family always loved the Holiday Classic race, and we could not think of a better way to honor his memory than by highlighting a special individual for the race that demonstrates those unforgettable 'Murph' qualities that we all knew and loved."

To reach John F. Russell, call 970-871-4209, email jrussell@SteamboatToday.com or follow him on Twitter @Framp1966

Murphy Roberts Holiday Classic

Wednesday , Dec. 20

Womens slalom

Scheduled first run — 9 a.m.

Scheduled second run — 12:15 p.m.

Mens Slalom

Scheduled first run — 10:15 a.m.

Scheduled second run — 1:45 pm.

Thursday, Dec. 21

Womens FIS slalom

Scheduled first run — 1 p.m..

Scheduled second run — 5:30 p.m.

Mens FIS Slalom

Scheduled first run — 2:45 p.m.

Scheduled second run — 6:30 p.m.

Murphy Roberts Award will follow

Friday, Dec. 22

Womens FIS slalom

Scheduled first run — 9 a.m.

Scheduled second run — 12:15 p.m.

Mens FIS Slalom

Scheduled first run — 10:15 a.m.

Scheduled second run — 1:45 p.m.