April just fits for Cody’s Challenge | SteamboatToday.com

April just fits for Cody’s Challenge

Chuck Cerasoli skis up Mount Werner during last year's Cody's Challenge event at Steamboat Ski Area. Organizers are hoping for as many as 200 racers at this year's event.

— The late-season date for Cody's Challenge randonee race is a product of many compromises, organizer Corinne St. John said.

The date, usually in the first week of April, was meant to slide in with other similar ski mountaineering events already on Colorado's calendar without causing overlap. Planners hoped to find a quieter time at the host venue, Steamboat Ski Area.

More than any of that, however, April felt right that first year, St. John said, and now, as the event has tripled in size, it still does.

Her brother, Cody St. John, was a Steamboat ski patroller who died from complications after a car accident in April 2007.

While the race, set for Saturday and now in its eighth year, has grown plenty and attracted expert racers from around the region, for the St. John's, it is now as it always has been: about Cody.

"It always lands right around the time of Cody's passing anniversary, so it's an amazing time for all of our family," Corinne St. John said. "It makes for a celebration of his life, and it's great for us to be here for that."

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It's that same motivation that's kept organizers from pursuing the temptation to expand the event, perhaps to other dates and other resorts.

"Whenever that discussion comes up, we always come back to the fact that we do it in Steamboat because Steamboat is special," St. John said. "We wouldn't want it anywhere else."

The time and location are central to the event's meaning, and through the years, they've become central to the race itself.

April has proven particularly unkind in several years, forcing organizers to alter the course in the face of melting snow, or, if they don't make changes, causing racers to dodge patches of dirt.

That won't be the case this year, however, as the event should enjoy one of its snowiest starts.

"We have great conditions, which is exciting," St. John said. "There won't be exposed boulder on the course, or rocks or big patches of dirt, so this is how we always hoped the course would look."

She's expecting another record turnout to take advantage of those conditions. As recently as 2013, the race had 76 skiers successfully navigate its exhausting up and down, up and down course across some of Steamboat's steepest and best terrain.

Last year, 172 completed the challenge, and this year, organizers are bracing to break 200.

"We have a lot of first-time racers who inquire about it, which is really awesome," St. John said. "These races can be pretty intimidating, but Steamboat lends itself to being a very approachable race. We're hoping we can get a lot of newbies out on course this year."

Registration costs $70 online at CodysChallenge.com. That option closes at noon Friday. Day-of registration will be available Saturday morning for $75 at Bear River Bar and Grill at the base of Steamboat Ski Area.

The race starts at 8:30 a.m. from the top of the gondola, and a post-race party will await at Slopeside Grill.

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

Cody’s Challenge

What: Cody’s Challenge randonee ski and snowboard race

Where: Steamboat Ski Area

When: 8:30 a.m. Saturday

Cost: $70 online at CodysChallenge.org until noon Friday, or $75 day-of at Bear River Bar and Grill starting at 7 a.m.