Steamboat Springs The question of whether or not Steamboat Ski Area would even build a halfpipe lingered into the summer.
Resort officials pointed to declining usage of the 18-foot pipe that’s been built in Bashor Bowl and to the immense resources it takes first to build it, using as much as 15 percent of the ski area’s annual manmade snow, then to maintain, requiring attention as much as four times a week from one of the resort’s precious winch snowcats capable of grooming steep terrain.
Finally, officials from both the resort and from Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club, eager to maintain the venue for its successful snowboard program, came together on an agreement to split the costs of the pipe.
Now, local Winter Sports Club freestyle skiers and snowboarders will get the chance to take advantage of that agreement this weekend as the club plays host to a United States of America Snowboard and Freeski Association event in that halfpipe.
“It’s actually the perfect-sized pipe for this level of riding and skiing,” club snowboard director Tori Koski said. “A lot of the coaches are excited to get back into a well-cut, 18-foot pipe, one of the best and only 18-foot pipes in the country.”
Athletes will compete from 1 to 4 p.m. Saturday in a rail jam event at the terrain park at Howelsen Hill, then on Sunday, they will head over to Mount Werner for the halfpipe competition between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m.
USASA events draw young freeskier and snowboarders from around the region and are the launching pad for any athlete hoping to make it to big-time events like the Revolution Tour, Dew Tour, X Games or the Olympics.
Scoring big at Winter Park
The Steamboat Springs Winter Sport Club has had plenty of solid results recently from athletes aiming for those heights.
Competing at a USASA slopestyle event last week in Winter Park, the club landed four podium finishes and half a dozen other top results.
Among the best results was a third-place finish by Johnny Duty, 14.
“It was really cool to get him on the podium,” Winter Sports Club coach Maddy Schaffrick said. “That was his first podium this year, and he’s been working really hard. He's a really fun rider to watch. He has a lot of style and always has a good time.”
Jackie Clemente, 11, was also third in his division.
“He’s been balancing hockey and snowboarding,” Schaffrick said. “He’s a busy kid, and I know it meant a lot for him to be up there.”
Tatum Lightner, 11, was third, as well, while the club’s youngest high finisher on the weekend, Rochelle Weinberg, 7, won her division.
“She’s awesome. She’s so tiny,” Schaffrick said. “We just have to keep telling her to go straight off all the jumps because she needs all the speed she can get.”
Jacy Werner, 15, was fifth, Brayden Duty, 10, seventh, Elias Christian, 11, 10th, Marty Boyd, 13, 12th, and Jake Suchowski, 13, 13th.
There were podiums on the skier side, as well. At the Menehune boys level, for 10 to 11-year-olds, Cael McCarthy was second and David Schlicht third. Wiley Wagner was sixth.
Kai Doyle was second among the youth men, 14-15. Liam Baxter was fifth there, Bryce Zetzman, eighth, and Jon Kolvereid, 18th.
In Breaker boys, 12-13, Blake Clemente was eighth and Owen Taylor ninth.
Fast at Cooper, big at Copper
The team racked up other big results earlier this month, including at a snowboard cross event Feb. 4 and 5 at Ski Cooper.
There, Gigi Boyd was first in both her races among the 8- to 9-year-old girls. Kendall Harrington was second and third and Sophie Scheel placed sixth twice at the 12-13 level.
Walker Overstake was second and fourth in the 10-11 boys division. Kento Kawamura, a Japanese rider living in Steamboat and training with the Winter Sports Club, was first and fifth among 12- to 13-year-old boys, Winston Vaughan first and fifth and Jacy Werner sixth and eighth among the 14-15 boys and Andrew Breithaupt fifth and second in the men’s open class.
In a Jan. 21 halfpipe competition at Copper Mountain, Rochelle Weinberg was first, Braden Duty eighth, Elias Christian ninth and Johnny Duty fourth.
Weinberg was first a day later in a slopestyle comp, Meredith Connor second, Marty Boyd fifth, Werner sixth, Christian and Duty eighth and Jackie Clemente and Jake Suchowski 14th.
The freeskiers also tackled Copper and came away with strong results. Riley Jacobs, Cael McCarthy and Liam Baxter all came out on top of their divisions. David Schlicht was fifth in his.
To reach Joel Reichenberger, call 970-871-4253, email jreichenberger@SteamboatToday.com or follow him on Twitter @JReich9