Home-field advantage

Event puts Winter Sports Club riders on familiar terrain

Ryan Oleski's mom, Teressa, says there are only a few things in this world that can pull her 13-year-old son away from his beloved Xbox.

This weekend's SOS Outreach Snowboard Series at the Steamboat Ski Area happens to be one of them.

"I'm excited about it," Ryan said. " I love snowboarding, motocross and my Xbox."

This weekend, however, games such as Grand Theft Auto will take a back seat to the pursuit of medals during an SOS Snowboard Outreach event in Steamboat Springs.

The event will include a halfpipe competition Saturday at Mavericks and then a slopestyle event Sunday at the SoBe Terrain Park. Registration for the events runs from 7:30 to 9:30 a.m., and the competitions are expected to begin at 11a.m. both days.

"I compete in all of the events, but I probably like the halfpipe the best," Ryan said. "I wasn't that strong in freestyle last winter, so I'm hoping to come out strong this year."

Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club snowboard coach Michael Herget is expecting a field of 100 riders with more than 40 of them coming from Steamboat.

"These are the first freestyle events for the SOS series this year," Herget said. "I know our riders are excited about it."

The 15-event SOS Outreach Society Snowboard Series is the largest amateur series in the United States and acts as one of the main outlets for competitive snowboarders between the ages of 6 and 50 in the Rocky Mountain Region. The series has hosted six Alpine events this winter, but Saturday's event will be the first halfpipe of the year.

In the series, riders can compete in slalom, giant slalom, halpipe, slopestyle and boardercross events. Top finishes will earn the riders berths to the United States Amateur Snowboarding Association Nationals, which will be held in Angel Fire, N.M., March 21 to 27.

Herget said the Steamboat program, which is the biggest in the state, should be well represented on this weekend's podiums.

"Everyone who's anyone in the sport of snowboarding here in Steamboat is going to be there," Herget said. "This is a big one."

Herget expects Winter Sports Club standouts such as Davis Johnson, Oleski and Matt Ladley to be strong on the boy's side. He also thinks that Emily Robinson and Kelsey Bunce will be strong in the girls events. However, he added that there are too many talented Steamboat riders to predict which ones will shine this weekend.

Ryan, who started snowboarding six years ago, said he is just glad to get to stay at home for a change.

"It's great. I don't have to get up early and drive somewhere to compete," Ryan said. "That's what makes this event so great."

-- To reach John F. Russell call 871-4209

or e-mail jrussell@steamboatpilot.com

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