Winters shines in dual disciplines | SteamboatToday.com

Winters shines in dual disciplines

Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club snowboarder Billy Winters cuts down the face of Howelsen Hill during a January race in Steamboat Springs. Winters went on to have successful seasons in both alpine snowboard racing and snowboard cross. He was able to compete at the Junior World Championships earlier this month in both disciplines.

— It's been years since Billy Winters made the "big decision" in his snowboarding career or, at least, the first big decision.

Once a practitioner of four competitive varieties of the sport — half-pipe, slopestyle, Alpine racing and snowboard cross — he several years ago cut his commitments in half, eliminating the freestyle events, half-pipe and slopestyle.

That still leaves the two racing events, and Winters, 18, showed again early this month that he's plenty capable in both.

Winters' strong season of competition earned him the chance to compete at the Junior World Championships in Slovenia in both snowboard cross and Alpine snowboard racing. His best results came in the Alpine racing — sixth in parallel giant slalom and seventh in parallel slalom.

He was also 33rd in snowboard cross and sixth in a team event.

"It's huge he did that in both racing and boardercross," said Tori Koski, snowboard director for the Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club. "Usually, it's either one or the other."

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His Alpine results stood out in particular as some of the best U.S. athletes have ever recorded at a Junior World Championship.

Other Winter Sports Club results included Christian De Oliveira’s 22nd and 20th place finishes and Myles Silverman’s 35th place showing on the boys side. For the girls, Maggie Rose Carrigan was 20th and 22nd, and Millie Bongiorno was 26th and 28th.

For Winters, his logic about sticking with both sports is fairly simple. He's putting up solid results in both, and as long as that's true, why change anything?

He logged 13 Nor-Am Cup starts this season, seven in snowboard cross and six in Alpine racing.

He found big results in both disciplines. In his six slalom and giant slalom races, he was outside the top 10 just once and landed on the podium at a parallel slalom race at Howelsen Hill in Steamboat Springs in January.

He scored a snowboard cross podium this season, as well, placing third at an event at Ski Cooper.

"I like them both the same," Winters said. "Boardercross is a little more exciting — well — a lot more exciting, actually, and a lot more on the edge, but I like Alpine, too. I just like it."

It's far from easy, however, and paying for all that travel and the necessary coaches and equipment isn't cheap. He's spent recent summers working to try to help defray the cost and has gotten plenty of help from his family, as well as scholarships from Winter Sports Club, the Over the Hill Gang and the Moose is Loose organization.

The complications go beyond all that, too, and despite how well things went this year, Winters is aware changes could come, even as soon as next season.

He's hoping to earn his first World Cup starts next year, and once at that level, the schedule may not be forgiving enough to allow a rider to compete in more than one discipline.

"Probably, at some point, I'll have to choose between either going World Cup or one or the other," he said. "For now, I'm still able to do good in both, so why not keep doing it?"

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