Skip to main content

Steamboat Magazine

Four Stars to Watch

12/08/2023 01:42PM ● By Suzy Magill
(Cover Photo: Peyton Billeisen competes in his first World Cup in Deer Valley, Utah last winter season 2022-2023. Courtesy of Peyton Billeisen.) 

Featured in Steamboat Magazine Ski Edition 2023-2024

Steamboat Springs, CO - From Howelsen Hill to Norway, Canada and Chile, these are the names you'll be hearing this year as these four stars of the slopes chase titles, ambitions and dreams. 

(Peyton Billeisen competes in his first World Cup in Deer Valley, Utah last winter season 2022-2023. Courtesy of Peyton Billeisen.) 
Peyton Billeisen
Peyton Billeisen has skied since he could walk.

“When did I first start skiing? I was probably one,” Peyton laughs. “I’ve stuck to it ever since. There’s this freedom it makes me feel. The creativity of it – you can do whatever you want. There are no boundaries. No rules.”

Peyton moved to Steamboat to train with the Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club’s freestyle team for mogul skiing in fall 2022.

Last winter, Peyton was invited to compete at the U.S. Selections Event in Winter Park in January. At the event, he placed seventh in singles and second in duals, qualifying for the NorAm Cup and the Deer Valley World Cup.

The NorAm Cup, one of the six Continental Cups for skiing, serves as a stepping stone to the World Cup circuit. Last season, the cup series included two North American events at Deer Valley and Killington, and two Canadian events at Apex and Val St. Comê.

Throughout the NorAm competitions, Peyton says, his results and skiing were consistent, but the World Cup was next level.

“It was pretty shocking,” he says. “The skill gap between NorAms and the World Cup is huge.”

At Deer Valley, Peyton crashed during a run and didn’t achieve the results he had hoped for, but that didn’t detract from his experience.

“Competing with the people you look up to, under the lights with my team cheering me on? It’s pretty sweet,” Peyton says.

At a high level of competition however, Peyton often worries about letting the people around him down. “There’s this idea that you should do well, and when you don’t, it’s hard,” Peyton explains. “You have to not put pressure on yourself and know that there’s no pressure to do well. People just want to see you thrive.”

Throughout last season, Peyton faced challenges: overcoming a fear of new tricks and learning how to relieve pressure from himself, but this season, he faces a different type of battle. At the close of last season, coming off of a gold medal at Junior Nationals, Peyton tore his ACL and needed surgery to repair it.

This season, the focus will be on physical therapy, team workouts, and a return to easy skiing in December, holding off on any competition until the 2024-25 season.

“I’m not rushing back into things. Skiing is going to be a big part of my life for a very long time,” Peyton says. “When I come back to competitions next winter, it’s going to be at 110 percent.”

(Gigi races at Copper Mountain in 2021. Photo courtesy of Gigi Boyd.)
Gigi Boyd
Gigi Boyd got a late start when she began competing in boardercross (more technically known as “snowboard cross”) at age 10.

“When I was a little kid, I would watch my brother’s snowboard competitions, but I didn’t love the jumps and rails he did,” Gigi explains. “I always gravitated towards boardercross instead.”

Gigi's parents made her wait, cautious of the risk presented by four people going down an extremely technical course all at once. When she got on a course at Ski Cooper in Leadville for the first time in fourth grade, she was hooked.

The courses for boardercross are highly engineered for competitions; they consist of berms, or steep banks built up around a turn, sets of rollers, sharp drops and steep jumps. The first two people across the finish line advance.

“It’s an adrenaline rush,” Gigi says. “You’re ripping down a course with three other people going over rollers, berms and jumps. I love that rush of snowboarding next to people. There’s nothing else like it.”

Because of the nature of the sport, odds are constantly changing.

“If you fall or someone falls in front of you or there’s a pile up, it just is what it is,” Gigi explains. “You never know who’s gonna win, so it’s constantly exciting. You could be the worst and still win because of good luck or be the best and not win because of bad luck.”

Gigi is one of only four boardercross athletes with the Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club, where they train on a course at Howelsen Hill. Because boardercross is a niche sport, the racers often know each other, but Gigi tries to treat it the same as racing someone she doesn’t know.

“I try my best to separate racing me from normal me,” she explains.

Last season Gigi followed the NorAm boardercross cups across the continent, and her results in these competitions qualified her to compete for Team USA at the Junior World Championships in Italy.

“There were so many talented people there,” Gigi remembers. “The girl who got second place had just come off of a World Cup win. It was crazy insane to even be in the same competition as kids at that level.”

Upon her return from Junior Worlds, Gigi drove directly from the airport to Copper Mountain for U.S. Nationals. In the aftermath of canceled and delayed flights and in the wake of her first international competition, Gigi did the unthinkable –  she won U.S. Nationals at only 16 years old.

That was just the beginning. “I want to try to make it to Junior Worlds again and hopefully to the Youth Olympic Games in South Korea,” Gigi says. “I’m on the list for it, but not at the top. I’m hoping I’ll get there this season.”

(Alexa Brabec competes in a Continental Cup race in Rena, Norway. She finished in sixth place. Photo courtesy of Alexa Brace.)
Alexa Brabec
Like many Steamboat Springs' kids, Alexa Brabec spent Wednesday nights at Howelsen Hill, ripping down the inrun of the “Bump Jump” on her downhill skis.

“When I was about 10 years old, I wanted to take the next step and try jump skis,” Alexa says. “I found out there’s nothing like ski jumping. The feeling of the air is unmatched by anything.”

A few years later, she decided that she wanted to compete in Nordic combined, a sport that mixes the technical and high-flying sport of ski jumping with the high-endurance sport of cross-country skiing.

Last year, while also balancing AP classes and college applications, Alexa competed in Europe and North America with USA Nordic. She raced and jumped from Junior Worlds in Canada to World Championships in Slovenia to the Jumpin’ and Jammin’ competition in Steamboat.

“I really enjoy traveling. Skiing allows me to travel to so many different countries and experience so much,” Alexa says. “I hope to continue that after I finish skiing.”

Just three months after graduating from Steamboat Springs High School in May, Alexa moved – on her own – to Lillehammer, Norway.

USA Nordic has partnered with the Norwegian National Team for Nordic combined training, allowing Alexa to train in Norway with Norwegian coaches. From Lillehammer, she will compete in World Cups and Continental Cups throughout the season.

The women’s Nordic Combined 2023-24 World Cup season starts on Friday, Dec. 1, in Lillehammer with a 5-kilometer skate ski race and a 98-meter jump.

But even as Alexa works towards her World Cup season in a foreign country, she laments the lack of gender equality in her sport.

“The lack of equality between men and women’s Nordic combined has been a huge challenge, especially with events,” Alexa explains. “You’re looking forward to a season, and then venues aren’t willing to host women. We have so many fewer events and opportunities to compete.”

Last year, women’s Nordic combined was again barred from competing in the Olympics in 2026, but Alexa continues to look forward.

“I’m focused on the now. Hopefully, one day, women will compete at the Olympic level,” she says. “It’s hard to hear we can’t, but for now, I’m looking forward to competing this season and taking all skiing has to offer.”

(This winter, Roman will travel on the NorAm circuit for Alpine skiing. Photo courtesy of Roman Elvidge.)
Roman Elvidge
At just 17 years old, Roman Elvidge’s top performances last season qualified him for the D Team of the US Alpine Ski Team. He spent last summer at the Olympic Center of Excellence in Park City, Utah, living with two teammates and training six days a week with Team USA.

“It was more intensive than any training I’ve done,” he explains. “I have so many more resources now, and it’s game-changing.”

To qualify for the D team, Roman had to achieve a top-30 result in a NorAm Continental Cup race and rank in the top 500 in the world for one of his events (either downhill, slalom, giant slalom or super G; alpine skiing events that vary based on the distance between gates and the slope of the run).

Last school year, as a junior at Steamboat Springs High School and during his seventh season with the Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club, Roman managed to meet these criteria while balancing AP classes and high academic performance with a string of skiing-related absences. This year, he opted to move school entirely online through Yampa Valley High School, which allowed him to begin his season this fall in Chile, where he trained for three weeks in the Andes mountains with the D Team.

In the winter, Roman will travel with the same group of eight other athletes and two coaches across the United States and Canada on the NorAM circuit for Alpine.

“Most of the year, I’ll be chasing NorAm,” Roman explains. “It’s high-level skiing, but it’s also domestic, so it’s a good way to gain competition experience while mostly staying in the US.

However, the heart of Alpine racing is found in Europe, so for one month this winter, Roman and the rest of the D team will train and travel through Europe in order to gain familiarity with racing there.

Even while skiing across continents, from North America to South America to Europe, Roman will continue to find his home base in the Yampa Valley, training with the SSWSC Alpine FIS team whenever he is home in Steamboat.

“My team in Steamboat is still one of the most important things to me,” Roman says. “We have a way of supporting each other and lifting each other up. We put our role as a teammate above being competitors.”