This past weekend Steamboat hosted the 14th Annual Cody’s Challenge celebrating the life of Steamboat ski patroller, Cody St. John. The community-centered event is a fundraiser with a portion of proceeds going towards The Cody St. John Foundation, which awards $5,000 in scholarships each year to professional ski patrollers for continuing medical education. Another year another beautiful event where outdoor enthusiasts gather and remember those we’ve lost.
Cody St. John was the youngest professional ski patroller and only snowboarder to ever receive the prestigious Colorado Ski Country USA Patroller of the Year award. At age 28, Cody was voted Steamboat Patroller of the Year by his fellow patrollers, before receiving the national accolade. The following year on Easter Sunday in April 2007, Cody tragically passed away after a head-on collision with a logging truck while driving to his nursing orientation at the University of Wyoming.
Devastated and determined to keep Cody’s memory alive, his family and fellow Steamboat ski patroller Kyle Lawton founded Cody’s Challenge. The lung-busting randonee race up and down Steamboat’s slopes invites everyone from mountaineering pros to first-time racers to test their mettle and then celebrate at a post-race party and awards ceremony.
Cody’s Challenge offers two course lengths — long and short (13 and 5 miles) — a men’s and a women’s division as well as a junior division for ages 17 and under on the short course. Thanks to big sponsorship throw-downs from companies like Marmot, Smith, Dakine, Yeti and Smartwool, prizes (awarded for first through third place in all divisions across the two courses) are always top notch.
A portion of proceeds raised goes to The Cody St. John Foundation, which awards $5,000 in scholarships each year to professional ski patrollers for continuing medical education. It’s the only non-profit established exclusively to benefit Professional Ski Patrollers nationwide.
Cody’s Challenge started with just 30 racers and has grown to nearly 200 participants in recent years. The energy on race day is high-stoke and community centered with a slight competitive edge among athletes, Lawton says. An ode to Cody’s exceptional commitment to the ski industry — the young patroller had a reputation for never removing his jacket during his lunch hour, staying prepared to run out the door if a rescue call came over the radio.