Words: Eugene Buchanon
Randonee racers are hoping the luck of the Irish is with them on Saint Patrick’s Day in Steamboat Springs, Colo., when the Cody St. John Foundation hosts the 4th annual Cody’s Challenge randonee race on Saturday, March 17, 2012.
Taking racers up, down and across Mount Werner, the event honors the life of Cody St. John, a former Steamboat ski patroller and Colorado Ski Country USA Patroller of the Year who passed away in an automobile accident in 2007 en route to attend a nursing school orientation at the University of Wyoming. Founded in his memory, the foundation’s mission is to help ski patrollers further their medical education through scholarships funded by the race. The 2012 scholarship awards will be announced at the evening race celebration.
This year’s event will feature two courses: a long course with more than 3,000 feet of vertical for avid racers and a regular course for newcomers to the sport. It will also feature an inter-mountain challenge between ski patrols from different resorts, with the fastest team of two receiving a $2,000 grant for the training program of their choice. The event’s overall winner will receive a $1,000 scholarship. The race begins with a 7:45-8:00 a.m. upload on the gondola, with the race starting at the top of the Gondola at 8:30 a.m. Both courses will finish toward the bottom of the mountain near Ski Time Square.
“Randonee racing is gaining a lot of momentum and this is a great way to celebrate Cody,” says course designer, two-time race winner and Steamboat patroller Kyle Lawton. “It’s remarkable how many people he touched with his kindness, enthusiasm for life and respect for the environment. We hope this race has the same impact as he did.”
While more marquee events in places like Snowbird and Jackson might have more vertical, Cody’s Challenge tops them in the pulmonary category. At last year’s awards party, it was Cody’s heart pumping the blood of lead singer and heart-transplant patient David Freshman. “We could feel his presence,” says Lawton. “It’s as if he was right there with us.”
Race entry for Cody’s Challenge is $60 for the event only and $100 for the event and an all-day lift ticket. A post-race lunch and awards ceremony will take place at the bottom of the mountain near the finish line at the T-Bar Grill. An evening Race Celebration at The Depot from 5:30-11 p.m. downtown completes the day of events.
Registration forms are available at the Steamboat Ski Area’s Information Center and on-line at http://codyschallenge.tcsjf.org. For more information visit http://www.whatwouldcodydo.net or call (410) 544-8413. Late registration will take place on Friday, March 16, 2012, from 4-6 PM at the ski patrol locker room in Gondola Square or on Saturday, March 17, from 7- 7:45 a.m. at Bear River Grill at the Gondola base.