More than 200 up for Challenge | SteamboatToday.com

More than 200 up for Challenge

Skiers make their way up Mount Werner on Saturday during Cody's Challenge race at Steamboat Ski Area.

— There were moments, Sunny Owens said, in which she wondered if they'd finish.

Her daughter, 10-year old Charley Lodwick, is a perfectly capable Nordic skier and a fine Alpine skier. She'd never skinned up a mountain, however, let alone raced in an event that required it.

2016 Cody’s Challenge results

Men's long course

1 Max Taam, 1:31:30

2 Rory Kelly, 1:36:57

3 Stephen White, 1:39:04

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Women's long course

1 Jessie Young, 1:39:05

2 Sari Anderson, 1:49:13

3 Kate Zander, 1:52:41

Men's short course

1 Dan Gilchrist, 1:04:24

2 Scott Wither, 1:18:59

3 Jeff Snook, 1:26:44

Women's short course

1 Ann Barbier, 1:28:00

2 Adrian Stroock, 1:29:03

3 Annakate Hein, 1:39:31

Men's long snowboard

1 Nolan Faldet, 2:35:45

2 Chris Rhodes, 2:39:00

3 David Jordan, 3:22:31

Women's long snowboard

1 Shannon Forbes, 2:42:18

2 Jessica Lobec, NA

Men's long heavy metal

1 Kevin McGarity, 1:55:23

2 Steven Stefko, 1:58:19

3 Aaron Dover, 2:08:18

Women's long heavy metal

1 Karen Tremaine, 2:54:33

2 Bec Bale, 2:56:02

3 Liz Baldwin, 2:59:48

Men's short snowboard

1 Zane Rigden, 1:48:17

2 Robert Jordan, 2:28:32

Women's short snowboard

1 Erin Nemec, 1:33:16

2 Meredith MacFarlane, 2:06:03

3 Summer Muir, 2:21:26

She'd been begging for the opportunity all season, however, and when Owens stumbled upon some appropriate gear recently, she couldn't deny Charley any longer.

Midway through the race, though, she wondered.

"I said, 'Try it! If you get tired, we'll just ski down,'" Owens said. "We had a couple of moments where we had to regroup, but overall, she always just wanted to keep going."

They didn't stop, they didn't turn around and eventually, together, they finished, flying down Mount Werner to join a record number of skiers and snowboarders in crossing the finish line for the eighth annual event.

It wasn't easy, Charley said, but it was fun.

"It was really hard to keep going in some parts, because I kept slipping," she said. "It was hard, but I would do it next year."

Hundreds apparently agree with her, as Cody's Challenge broke through more barriers and expanded yet again beyond its participation in recent years.

That was the storyline last year, as well, when the race had 172 finishers. Organizers had planned for a little expansion this year, but were once again blown away, as more than 200 took on the two courses, a short version and a long version.

Eight years ago, when the race was new, memories of the event's namesake, Steamboat Springs ski patroller Cody St. John, were still fresh and, at times, painful.

St. John died in 2007 from complications following a car accident as he drove from Steamboat to Laramie, Wyoming, for nursing school orientation. The event helps raise money for scholarships awarded to ski patrollers seeking education in medical fields.

In 2008, ski mountaineering was a fringe sport, even in a town like Steamboat Springs.

Now, some of the race's success could be attributed to the fact that the sport itself has grown dramatically. It'd grown so much and in so many ways, it became hard to even tabulate the results from so many categories.

There were skiers with "race gear," i.e., light Alpine touring equipment and tight-fitting speed suits. There were skiers on older AT equipment and on Telemark gear; then, there was a whole category of split-board snowboarders.

That growth has helped the event become entrenched in Steamboat.

"Eight years into organizing and hosting this event, I hope it’s just nicely rooted in the community," said Corinne St. John, one of the event directors. "It's amazing to see all these people out supporting the foundation, the cause. We love keeping Cody's spirit alive. To continue doing that work is really special for us."

On one end, the race drew fast, competitive athletes, some of the very best.

Aspen's Max Taam won the men's long course race, his fifth victory in the race's eight years. He was in this year at 1 hour, 31 minutes and 30 seconds. Jessie White, meanwhile, was the fastest on the women's long course, in at 1:39:05.

Taam and White are each currently atop their division in the United States Ski Mountaineering Association season points rankings.

Rory Kelly and Stephen White rounded out the men's podium, while Sari Anderson and Kate Zander filled the women's.

Dan Gilchrist won the men's short division, and Ann Barbier won the women's. On the men's side, Nolan Faldet won the long splitboard division, Kevin McGarity the long "heavy metal" (Telemark or older AT gear) division and Zane Rigden the men's short splitboard division. Shannon Forbes won the women's long snowboard class, Karen Tremaine the long heavy metal and Erin Nemec the short snowboard.

On the other end, the event attracted dozens and dozens of skiers and snowboarders, some racing a ski mountaineering race for the first time, and some, like Charley Lodwick, who'd never skinned up a mountain.

"I was tired," she said, "but it was fun."

2016 Cody’s Challenge results

Men’s long course

1 Max Taam, 1:31:30

2 Rory Kelly, 1:36:57

3 Stephen White, 1:39:04

Women’s long course

1 Jessie Young, 1:39:05

2 Sari Anderson, 1:49:13

3 Kate Zander, 1:52:41

Men’s short course

1 Dan Gilchrist, 1:04:24

2 Scott Wither, 1:18:59

3 Jeff Snook, 1:26:44

Women’s short course

1 Ann Barbier, 1:28:00

2 Adrian Stroock, 1:29:03

3 Annakate Hein, 1:39:31

Men’s long snowboard

1 Nolan Faldet, 2:35:45

2 Chris Rhodes, 2:39:00

3 David Jordan, 3:22:31

Women’s long snowboard

1 Shannon Forbes, 2:42:18

2 Jessica Lobec, NA

Men’s long heavy metal

1 Kevin McGarity, 1:55:23

2 Steven Stefko, 1:58:19

3 Aaron Dover, 2:08:18

Women’s long heavy metal

1 Karen Tremaine, 2:54:33

2 Bec Bale, 2:56:02

3 Liz Baldwin, 2:59:48

Men’s short snowboard

1 Zane Rigden, 1:48:17

2 Robert Jordan, 2:28:32

Women’s short snowboard

1 Erin Nemec, 1:33:16

2 Meredith MacFarlane, 2:06:03

3 Summer Muir, 2:21:26