Winters storms to 2nd in Race to the Cup snowboarding | SteamboatToday.com

Winters storms to 2nd in Race to the Cup snowboarding

Steamboat teen earns World Juniors chance with best-ever finish

Cody Winters, a 16-year old Steamboat Springs snowboarder, recorded the best result of his career Sunday, placing second in the Race to the Cup NorAm parallel slalom event at Steamboat Ski Area.

— Focus has been the focus for Cody Winters this season, the Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club Alpine snowboarder trying to manage his emotions and control his thoughts as he weaves between the gates.

"You have so many different emotions throughout the day," Winters said. "You're always trying to think about each thing. You need a lot of focus to stay on top."

He's never raced with more focus than he did Sunday at a Race to the Cup NorAm event at Steamboat Ski Area, and as a result, he experienced nearly every emotion possible. He was nervous when the consequence-laden day began, excited as it rolled along and he flew through the bracket, crushed when he came 0.01 seconds short of winning and, after that disappointment faded, elated as he basked in the best results of his young career and the big-time rewards that come with it.

Winters, 16 and a junior at Steamboat Springs High School, finished second in Sunday's parallel slalom, edged out in the final head-to-head dual by Canadian rider Richard Evanoff. It was still enough to land Winters on the Junior World Championship team, which heads in two weeks to compete in the Czech Republic.

Even better, the one other Alpine snowboarder on that team is Winters' brother, Billy Winters.

"It's amazing, euphoric, like a crazy good feeling," Cody Winters said. "I'm super stoked."

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Sunday's race wrapped a weekend of parallel slalom and parallel giant slalom racing on the All Out ski run at Steamboat Ski Area.

Steamboat riders fared extremely well Saturday in the PGS, sweeping the top three spots in the men's race. Steven MacCutcheon was third, and Robby Burns placed second, while Michael Trapp took the win.

Maggie Carrigan had the top local finish in both races, placing fourth Saturday and fifth Sunday. Both days of women's racing were dominated by the Canadian contingent, most specifically, by Megan Farrell, who won twice.

Steamboat and Canadian rider Riley Kilmer-Choi also fought his way into a top-four finish, placing fourth Sunday in the men's race after losing a tight contest against Cody Winters.

For Winters, the results came somewhat as a surprise, a very welcome one. His best previous result at the NorAm level came in December, when he was eighth at an event in Buck Hill, Minnesota. He was 17th Saturday, missing the finals, but found some momentum Sunday in tough, low-visibility conditions.

His path led him to the finals and the dual with Evanoff.

"We were neck-and-neck all the way through the course," Winters said. "I would have a fumble mess up; he would pull ahead. Then, he'd fumble, and I'd pull ahead. Then, it came down to the end, and we crossed the finish line, and there was a silence, and we were waiting for the announcer to say who'd won."

It was Evanoff, nine years Winters' senior and racing with a story of his own. His climb through the Alpine snowboarding world hit a road block on a visit to Steamboat four years ago, when he dislocated his shoulder after a fall during a race.

He turned away from the sport, but not entirely, continuing as a coach. That only fueled his fire, and this year, he decided on a comeback, aiming for the 2018 Winter Olympics.

"Coaching gave me a lot of knowledge I didn't have from the other side of the sport. Now, I'm more mature, and I understand it all better," he said. "I'm stoked to be back doing this."

Sunday, he was just good enough against Winters, stretching his arm across the finish line to win by the narrowest of margins, 0.01 seconds.

"He was a fast kid. He had me by a gate three quarters of the way down, and I just turned it on," Evanoff said. "I guess I had longer fingernails."

Winters, though, wasn't complaining. First or second, it all seemed about the same to him afterward. Either way, Sunday was an excellent day.

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

Race to the Cup top results

Saturday parallel giant slalom

Women

1 Megan Farrell, Canada

2 Jennifer Hawkrigg, Canada

3 Lynn Ott, USA

4 Maggie Carrigan, USA*

Men

1 Michael Trapp, USA*

2 Robby Burns, USA*

3 Steven MacCutcheon, USA*

4 Arnaud Gaudet, Canada

Sunday parallel slalom

Women

1 Megan Farrell, Canada

2 Katrina Gerencser, Canada

3 Kaylie Buck, Canada

4 Jennifer Hawkrigg, Canada

Men

1 Richard Evanoff, Canada

2 Cody Winters, USA*

3 Arnaud Gaudet, Canada

4 Richard Riley Kilmer-Choi, Canada*

*Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club rider