SSWSC adds a new Olympic sport to its program

Katie Everson, right, and Zachary Snavely race Saturday in the Cody’s Challenge, a ski mountaineering event at Steamboat Ski Area. The Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club is adding ski mountaineering to its lineup this winter.
Joel Reichenberger / Steamboat Pilot and Today’s Archives

The Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club is launching a new snow sports program this winter.

Ski mountaineering, known as skimo, is an endurance sport that requires athletes to climb and descend a mountain faster than their opponents. Similar to other endurance sports, distances and terrain vary depending on the mountain being raced.

Ski mountaineering head coach Tim DeBoom says the idea originally came to him when he discovered that most of his summer mountain bike athletes were doing small aerobic exercises in the winter .

When DeBoom quit racing professionally, skimo was the first sport he got into and said it was the perfect thing to keep his athletes in shape year-round. This is how he convinced the SSWSC to accept the idea.

“I sold it saying I come out of winter in better shape than I come out of summer and that’s because of the amount of skimo training I do,” DeBoom said.

A sport that has become huge in Europe, skimo is much smaller in the United States but continues to grow in popularity. The sport was recently announced as an official Olympic sport for the 2026 Winter Olympics in Italy.

DeBoom has ambitions to get Steamboat skimo athletes into the 2030 Winter Olympics and says it would be great to start his athletes young to prepare them.

“The fact that it’s an Olympic sport now, there’s no reason the club shouldn’t have a program,” DeBoom said. “We cover all the other ski disciplines here and I thought it was a great opportunity to do that.”

Summit County’s Grace Staberg climbs during the Women’s Ski Mountaineering Sprint Quarter Final at the Lausanne 2020 Winter Youth Olympic Games in January 2020 in Switzerland.
Photo by Olympic Information Services

So far, DeBoom’s mountain bike athletes have been the majority of entrants, but he says all are welcome to participate.

Because so much of the sport takes place on the mountainside, the equipment is much lighter and more fragile. DeBoom likens it to the difference between a cross-country bike and a downhill enduro bike.

DeBoom says it will take some time for his athletes to get used to the difference in equipment, but once they do, he’s confident they’ll fall in love with the sport.

“The kids who are signed up are the ones who really want to improve their fitness for next summer for mountain biking,” DeBoom said. “That’s kind of how I sold it to them, but I think they’re going to really enjoy it because it’s so much fun.”

With dry-field training kicking off over the next few days, DeBoom is looking forward to sharing the sport with the whole town.

His team will train at Howelsen and the Steamboat Resort each week. His goal is for his athletes to lead by example and become ambassadors for uphill training.

DeBoom said he’s grateful the SSWSC gave him the chance to do so and that his number one hope is to get more and more athletes interested over the years.

For his first season, DeBoom has no performance expectations. He just wants his athletes to have fun and enjoy ski mountaineering.

“My goal this winter is to really introduce them and build real winter fitness, more than trying to get totally race ready because most of them haven’t,” DeBoom said. .

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