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Tribune Staff

Powell's first-round foe experienced

The Powell Pioneers will have their work cut out for them in the opening round of the 2010 Northwest Region Class A tournament in Bozeman, Mont., this Friday. Powell's opponent, the Ashland (Ore.) Pilots, have made the trip in three of the last four years.

Former Powell resident Steinmetz wins national title

When Neven Steinmetz was a student at Powell High School, she participated in the traditional sports —volleyball, basketball, that sort of thing. The thought that 15 years later she might be standing atop the podium as the national champion of an extreme sport never crossed her mind.

But she's slowly getting used to the feeling.

Steinmetz, a 1995 Powell High School graduate, was crowned the 2010 national mountain-cross champion last month after winning the title in Colorado. Steinmetz is currently in the final stages of earning her Ph.D. in chemical engineering at the University of Colorado.

“You have a far-off goal of winning a national championship. I think everyone has some kind of thought along those lines,” Steinmetz said. “But for me, it was still hanging out somewhere over in the dream corner of my mind.”

Mountain-cross, also known as four-cross or simply 4X, is patterned after skier-X or boarder-X, popular X-Games and Winter Olympic events. The sport begins with four riders in the starting gate who must navigate a downhill dirt track filled with tight corners, speed-gathering straightaways and lots of bumps and jumps. The first two riders across the finish line in each heat advance to the next round and continue to race until only the final four riders remain.

Steinmetz successfully navigated all her preliminary races at the national championships without much drama.

Her championship run in the finals more than made up for it.

“I got off to a horrible start in the finals,” Steinmetz said. “Coming around the first turn, my foot came out of my pedal and I was in third place, which isn't good. The tracks we run on usually aren't constructed for passing, so the biggest advantage you have is being the person in front.”

For much of the race's first half, Steinmetz had a battle on her hands just to get into second place. That all changed abruptly as she came out of a corner and faced the second of three straight sections on the track.

“I didn't realize it until I saw myself on the video, but I just got the perfect line through that section,” said Steinmetz. “I went into the straight fighting for second, and then entering the corner at the end of it, suddenly there I am with a shot at first.”

Steinmetz's path through the straightaway enabled her to carry much of her speed into the next corner. It also allowed her to tuck her bike to the inside of the corner while the race leader — who also happened to be the defending world champion in the event — was forced to take a higher outside line. Steinmetz exited the corner with a slim lead and a short while later the pair collided, with only Steinmetz staying upright.

With the other two finalist riders well behind, Steinmetz's only challenge in the final straightaway was remaining atop her bike to cross the finish line.

“I see it and I'm still like, whoa, where did I come from?” said Steinmetz, who is unmistakable on the track on her pink cycle while wearing pink attire as an ambassador for Project Pink, a breast cancer awareness program. “I must have hit all the jumps in that section just perfect to carry that much speed.”

Steinmetz's national title was made even more amazing by her relative short period of time in the sport, as well as the unorthodox route she took in entering it.

Steinmetz's dirt-bike career started as a downhill rider, a more speed-based event in which riders navigate a downhill ski sort of slope with the goal of getting from top to bottom in the fastest amount of time. The thought of entering a mountain-cross race likely would have never crossed her mind had it not been for one thing.

“When I started out, they were desperate for riders to fill the race, so they offered free entries,” said Steinmetz. “I decided to try it out because it was free and I found myself getting addicted to it. Most folks in 4X get into it via BMX racing.”

Steinmetz says she has eight years of experience, five of which has been spent as a pro. Her competition has been at it “a lot longer,” she says.

That she's able to compete at all is somewhat of a miracle. Steinmetz's cycling career nearly ended before it had a chance to start. Eight years ago, while out riding, she was struck by a car.

“I was flat in the middle of the road,” Steinmetz recalls. “I had to have hip surgery. I went through tons and tons of rehab. No way did I ever imagine something like this. I started riding again just to have something to do during the summer and to help with my rehab.”

Gradually, Steinmetz got on a training regimen as she got more and more into the sport. Still, she found her focus split between her schooling and her budding professional riding career.

“School has always been the focus for me, but the last two years it has been more split,” acknowledges Steinmetz.

Considering that she's in the finishing stages of a doctoral thesis, that hasn't always been the easiest of balancing acts.

“The day after I won the national championship, I had to go back and do a huge defense presentation for my Ph.D. committee,” said Steinmetz. “Hopefully I'll be done in April, but that just means my anxiety level is high.”

Steinmetz has an additional reason to feel anxiety. She plans to attend the world championships in Mont Saint Anne in Quebec, Canada, later this month. The event, which is scheduled to take place from Aug. 31-Sept. 5, provides her an opportunity to continue her ascent up the ranks of her sport.

“It's the pinnacle event for our sport,” said Steinmetz. “Whoever wins that day in the finals, they're the world champion.”

Much of the cost of making that trip will come out of Steinmetz's pocket. While she has the luxury of sponsors that help provide much of her equipment, from the bike that she rides to the helmet and safety equipment she wears, the actual travel costs are something she must come up with on her own.

“The United States doesn't pay money to defray costs for gravity events,” Steinmetz said. “It's not something the United States Olympic Committee funds. Back in the 1990s and early 2000s, there was a little money in the sport, but since I started a lot of the sponsorships have been components —which still is nice.”

Steinmetz has set up a Paypal account online for those interested in assisting her with trip expenses. She can be e-mailed at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. for further information.


The calendar has turned to August. In less than a week, college football fall practices will begin. Shortly thereafter, the obligatory annual talk of how messed up the BCS is as a system for determining college football's national champion will start.

But there's absolutely no reason to wait for college football to talk about messed up systems. We can start right now by looking at Wyoming American Legion baseball.

Wyoming is flirting with diamond disaster. To date, we've been lucky. In two years under the current format, the state's top two AA programs have found a way to meet in the championship. The top two A programs have managed to meet head-to-head on the consolation side of the bracket and everyone has been able to pretend the system works.

It doesn't work. We dodged controversy last season when teams were inexplicably allowed to change their classification prior to the state tournament. We were dangerously close to courting it again last weekend.

Consider, eventual state A runner-up Laramie trailed at one point in its game against Casper. Had the Rangers not rallied for a two-run victory, Powell would have repeated as state champion by virtue of … eating lunch at Perkins while its lone remaining challenger played an opponent not even from the same classification?

Look, I want success for the local nine as much as the next guy. That said, any system that potentially distributes hardware and regional tournament invites based on something other than head-to-head play is a ticking timebomb.

Wyoming American Legion is faced with a unique problem. The national entity has dictated that, in order to qualify a team to the regional feeder tournament for the American Legion World Series each year, it must hold a state tournament with at least eight teams.

The problem is, we here in Wyoming don't have eight AA teams. Nor is there any reason to suspect we will any time in the near future. In fact, that pool of AA teams has shrunk in recent years. The result is a tournament structure designed out of necessity for the bigger teams being used to also determine Wyoming's regional A representative.

That makes about as much sense as asking for a chainsaw when a butter knife will do.

As long as the current format persists, so will the no-win situation faced by managers like Powell's Mike Jameson.

Faced with a AA opponent in last year's semifinals, the Pioneers' skipper threw one of his top pitchers, lost badly and needed a Herculean 12-inning pitching effort that saw staff ace Scotty Jameson throw in excess of 200 pitches in a single day to help lift his team to a state title. This year, in an effort to conserve pitching arms in pursuit of a repeat state title, it meant the Pioneers were placed in the position of sacrificial semifinal lambs.

Let me be clear here — Jameson and the Pioneers' coaching staff made precisely the right call in taking their lumps and living to fight another day rather than risk that a 40-win season would prematurely end. I'd love to see Powell trying to be David to Wyoming's baseball Goliath — I love the Chaminades and Appalachian States as much as the next person — but the time for those story lines is in the regular season, not during a hybrid AA/A state tournament where different teams are playing for different prizes.

No coach playing for a title should find himself in that position. The post-season is about moving forward, not about pausing to take a step backwards. Brackets should be designed to ensure that all teams are competing for an equal prize, with equal goals. Right now, three Wyoming teams at state need to play for first place. The other five might be able to make do with fourth place.

That's not a recipe for equal competition.

I don't claim to know the fix to these issues. I do know that its just a matter of time before someone more mathematical than myself puts a value on how the current system skews the odds of an A title in favor of the north division teams compared to the south due to the imbalance among AA teams.

Perhaps there is no solution. Maybe it turns out that the Wyoming state Legion baseball tournament, like democracy, is the worst possible idea, save for all others that have been tried.

I don't have the answers. But there's no question we currently have an imperfect system, and it is only a matter of time before it blows up into major controversy.

As I sit down to write this column, it's with a twinge of sadness. This particular feeling of melancholy is not entirely to blame on the untimely death of our hen Black Bart, who upon jumping the neighbor's fence, was promptly set upon by one of said neighbor's dogs.

Don't get me wrong — I'm extremely sad about our dearly departed feathered friend, but a country girl can only grieve so long for a chicken.

Instead, the blue mood is brought on by the knowledge that this is my last week at the Powell Tribune.

I'm leaving of my own accord — no explosive family feuds or anything of that nature (though that would have made for a good story.) I'll be the first to admit that the daily commute from Cody to Powell, and back again, over miles of torn-up road (which is, ironically, now paved) was getting really old, especially with a 3-year-old.

But, instead, it was another job that lured me away. On Monday, I begin training to take the reins as the new director of Northwest Wyoming Family Planning, and I'm beyond excited about the new challenge (and maybe just a little bit nervous, as well.) So, in my mind, I am truly leaving for greener pastures and new adventures.

The decision came only after a lot of thought and discussion with my family. Without a doubt, the hardest part of that decision was the thought of leaving my co-workers here at the Trib. From the famous fair food eating contests (for the record, I never won), to the endless puns and embarrassingly irreverent sense of humor that pervades the back office, I've never spent so much time laughing at work. The free-for-all joke-fest has made what can be a really stressful and demanding job much easier and more enjoyable. Not to worry, Kara Bacon has generously offered to “pipe me in” via Google Chat or something if I have sick joke withdrawals. And let me tell you, I may need it.

More than that, though, I'll miss the friendships I've made at the Trib. It's been gratifying to work with a group of really smart, talented and capable people — the humor has truly just been icing on the cake.

However, you won't get rid of me that easily — I'll continue to contribute a column from time to time, just to fill you in on the crazy goings-on in our neck of the woods. While I can't predict the frequency of them — it depends on the demands of a new job and on my little child continuing to provide endless fodder — I'll keep them coming.

So, in the style of our managing editor, “Boomerang” Tessa Schweigert, who has written more “farewell” columns than can be counted on one hand, on Friday I'll say not goodbye, but “until next time.”

{gallery}08_03_10/carflip{/gallery}

A driver in the Figure 8 Races flips his car during the Friday night event at the Park County Fair. The races “get more popular every year,” said Fair Manager Steve Scott. He said Monday that gate entrances and carnival revenue were up at this year's fair. Saturday night's demolition derby was the only grandstand event of the week to sell out, with more than 2,200 tickets sold. Tribune photo by Kevin Kinzley

The sow grizzly bear found guilty of the death of a camper and the injury of two others in Soda Butte campground just east of Cooke City, Mont., on July 28 was euthanized Friday.

Her three cubs were delivered to ZooMontana in Billings on Saturday.

Nine of the 13 candidates for the Park County Commission made pitches to the Cody business community at a forum last week.

Questions at the July 29 event centered around economic development.

The forum, held in the Coe Auditorium at the Buffalo Bill Historical Center, was open only to invitees: Cody Chamber of Commerce members, Forward Cody investors and local media.

Following rainstorm, country singer gives acoustic show to fairgoers

Known for her hit song “Bring on the Rain,” country music star Jo Dee Messina faced a thunderstorm moments before her Park County Fair show with an attitude true to her song's lyrics — “I'm not going to let it get me down.”

Regardless of the rain-drenched stage, flooded equipment, electrical issues, muddy ground, windblown fans and continuing storm, Messina was determined that the show would go on.

{gallery}08_03_10/pioneers{gallery}

The Powell Pioneers storm the field in celebration of their second Class A state title on Friday in Sheridan. After falling behind 5-4, Powell scored nine unanswered runs to repeat as state champs. Tribune photo by Ben Wetzel

Powell tops Sheridan to reach title game

When they met in the opening round of North District tournament play, the Sheridan Troopers stunned Powell by vaulting to a seven-run lead before Powell rallied for a 13-11 victory. Meeting in a state elimination game last Friday, the Pioneers made certain there would be no repeat.

Powell jumped on the tournament host Troopers early and often, building a 12-0 lead and cruising to a 15-7 victory that ultimately set the stage for a Class A title contest against Laramie.

Regional return

After a momentary third-inning hiccup, the Powell Pioneers American Legion baseball team emphatically played itself back into the Northwest Regional Class A tournament with a 13-5 victory over Laramie on Friday. The win delivered Powell its second Wyoming state Class A title in as many seasons.

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