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Kids of all ages go big at SOS halfpipe

David L'Heureux

Entrants would be forced to navigate some hairy conditions, including near-single-digit temperatures, gusting winds, extremely icy walls on the pipe, and a fair amount of soft, powder snow in the flat-bottom section.

It was a testament to the Golden Peak crew that this competition even took place, considering about two feet of snow had fallen on the Vail Valley in the 48 hours leading up to the event.

“There was about twenty inches of snow in the pipe this morning,” said Jonathon Casson, who was both a Master’s Class competitor and a coach for the Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club. “They dragged a cat through the middle, and then the Vail crew did a really good job of setting it up from there. It was a little soft in the bottom, but what can you expect with the recent snowfall amounts we have gotten?”

Steamboat, once again, brought a large contingent to an SOS event, representing more than a third of the competitors. And, once again, its group of junior shredders would figure prominently in the end results, taking numerous medals, and completing a sweep of the top-three spots in the 10-11 year-old boys’ category with riders Matt Ladley, Blake Eddington, and Max Ericcson finishing first, second and third, respectively.

“That’s a really strong age group for us,” said Casson at the postrace awards ceremony. “Max went about seven or eight feet out of the pipe on the first wall of his second run, same with Blake. Huge. I thought Matt Ladley had a little more well-rounded run, but didn’t go quite as big.”

The hometown kids were representing too, as the little rippers on the Ski and Snowboard Club of Vail showed no fear Sunday, launching huge tweaked out grabs and spinning 540’s at will.

Some of their top finishers were Julya Chapman and Lindsay Telling taking the top two spots in the 12-13 year-old girls’ division. Twins Alex and Bryan Daino battled each other for fourth and fifth place, respectively, in the 12-13 year-old boys’ group. Sabrina Ste. Marie took first in the 14-15 year-old girls’ class, while Hunter Thompson claimed that honor in the corresponding boys’ division. To cap it off, Vail’s Jason Rutheford took the top spot in the senior men’s class, ages 23-29.

“I was happy with our overall team performance,” said Ben Boyd, one of the coaches for the Ski and Snowboard Club of Vail. “Those were some pretty tough conditions and our kids just got out there and went for it.”

Other top, local finishers of note were on the skiing side of the draw, where Pete and Tony Seibert claimed the top two spots in the men’s competition. Pete would finish first and his brother Alex got second-place honors.

Mike Gehard, community outreach coordinator for SOS viewed the event as a bone-chilling success. SOS’s jack-of-all-trades, who served as registrar, starter, coordinator and M.C. for the awards ceremony, had this to say after his toes thawed out.

“I think it went really well,” said Gehard. “We had 61 riders enter, which is a typical number for an event like this one. It was a little bit chilly out there today, but everyone seemed to be having fun and no one got hurt. These kids were throwing down some big time tricks.”

The Snowboard Outreach Society has just two more events left on its 2002-2003 competition calendar. A giant-slalom race will be held at Beaver Creek on Sunday, and a slopestyle competition that will take place at Golden Peak in Vail on March 8.

“We are just happy with the season winding down, and two more events to go, that we have had another great year,” said Gehard. “We sent almost eighty kids to nationals last year, and we are looking at probably at least that this year.”

Anyone interested in competing in the last two events of the season can show up the morning of and register in person prior to the competition’s start. Look for registration and start times, which will be posted soon, in upcoming editions of the Vail Daily.

David L’Heureux is a freelance writer, who is based in Vail.


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