Steamboat’s U16 Alpine skiers are dominating the competition | SteamboatToday.com

Steamboat’s U16 Alpine skiers are dominating the competition

STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — A huge pack of Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club skiers are heading this week to the biggest event of their season, the U.S. Ski and Snowboard U16 National Championships at Mission Ridge Ski Resort in Wenatchee, Washington.

The club qualified 16 skiers from the U16 Rocky/Central regional championships earlier this month, dominating that event from beginning to end. Now, it'll mean one more big weekend of racing for those athletes.

"It’s certainly a powerhouse group," coach Ben Brown said of his squad. "The boys, in particular, had a really good week."

Steamboat skiers accounted for 10 podium finishes, including nine on the boys side out of a possible 15.

No one was more consistent than Jack Reich, who won the giant slalom, the super-G and the super combined while finishing third in the slalom and fifth in the downhill.

Among top-10 finishers in the GS, Steamboat's Nicholas Richeda was second, Cam Owens fifth, Cooper Puckett sixth, Peter Dohr seventh, Phenix Tatge ninth and Bode Flanigan 10th.

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In the super-G, Cole Gedeon was fourth, James Lahrman fifth, Tatge sixth, Dohr seventh, Marat Washburn ninth and Jevon Hovey 10th.

Gedeon was third, Richeda fifth, Dohr sixth, Lahrman eighth and Owens ninth in the super combined.

Owens won the downhill, with Gedeon second, Lahrman third, Puckett sixth, Flanigan seventh, Tatge eighth, Dohr ninth and Washburn 10th.

Richeda then won the slalom, with Owens fourth, Dohr fifth, Puckett sixth, Kai McGuffin seventh and Flanigan eighth.

For the girls, Emilia Cooper was seventh in the GS. Natalia Tatge was third in downhill, Ryli Adrian fourth, Jaelie Hovey fifth, Emily Schneider eighth and Emily Craig ninth. Hovey was fourth in the super-G.

For Reich, that week of success was just part of what's been a tremendous March for the 15-year-old standout.

He qualified earlier in the year to compete at the 2018 Future Ski Champions event in Åre, Sweden, a rare opportunity that gave him the chance to race against the best skiers his age from around the world.

Twelve different nations sent one skier each to race a giant slalom event during the World Cup Finals.

"They get that experience and they get to learn what it's like to be a World Cup athlete," Brown said.

Reich, who grew up in Denver and is a student at Steamboat Mountain School, won a race in Vermont early in the season to earn the right to represent the United States in Sweden.

"He obviously has really good fundamentals," Brown said. "He's a hard worker, and he keeps it pretty even if he doesn't do well, or if he does do well. He's very thoughtful in how he wants to make it to the highest levels of the sport."

He was ranked the No. 1 skier after the Rocky/Central championships, but the full strength of Steamboat's U16 team showed there. Richeda was second in that ranking and Owens third.

For now they’re crushing U16 competitions, but it’s a group that could be a factor in the wider world of ski racing for years to come.

"We're a strong team, and they're really working together," Brown said. "It's a lot of work, but academically and athletically, they're very professional about it, and they have fun too. It's a just a really special group in a lot of ways."

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