Summit County’s professional snowboarders begin preparing for the 2023-24 season
Taylor Gold chooses to take step back from competitions, focus on filming
Although Colorado ski resorts have not opened for the 2023-24 ski and ride season, Summit County-based professional snowboarders have been busy preparing for the upcoming competition season.
Whether getting back into shape with dry land training or flying out to Switzerland to get back on snow at the Stomping Grounds Projects’ training camp in Saas-Fee, riders across the region are getting primed for the quickly approaching competition season.
Entering the second year of the four-year winter Olympic games cycle, the coming competition season will not feature a pressure-filled slate of Olympic qualifiers, or even a World Championship event, but it will still be chock-full of domestic and international competitions at both the developmental and World Cup level.
On Thursday, Oct. 12, U.S. Ski and Snowboard released a roster of 54 athletes that have accepted their nomination to the Hydro Flask U.S. Snowboard team in halfpipe, slopestyle/big air and snowboardcross for the upcoming competition season.
With a strong prevalence of professional snowboard athletes, it is no surprise that several Summit County residents made the cut for this year’s team.
Last season, Dillon’s Chase Blackwell was left off the pro snowboard halfpipe team, but he did not let that stop him from rocketing his way to several standout performances throughout the season.
Blackwell, 24, took bronze in the men’s halfpipe competition at the U.S. Grand Prix at Mammoth Mountain and later traveled to Georgia as part of the U.S World Championship team. Blackwell went on to place 12th overall at his fourth world championships.
His consistent and stellar performances throughout the 2022-23 season ultimately led to Blackwell finishing ninth in the world on the world snowboard points list and sealed his spot on the U.S. pro team for the 2023-24 season.
Over the last few weeks, Blackwell has been busy training in Saas-Fee and is looking forward to keeping the momentum rolling throughout the upcoming season.
“It’s been really good,” Blackwell said of training. “It was been a really good camp so far. I have already got a few new tricks under the belt that I am super excited for. I have pretty much the same goal as usual, which is to keep chipping away at those podiums or keep landing runs in general. I hope to implement some more tricks and style to my run.”
Blackwell is joined on the men’s pro team by the now-Summit County resident Lucas Foster, formerly of Telluride, as well as Connecticut’s Joey Okesson and Idaho’s Chase Josey.
Steamboat Springs product and Summit County resident Taylor Gold was most notably left off of this year’s pro team, but the two-time Olympian is looking to take an opportunity to step back from the grind of the competition circuit and plunge into filming in the backcountry.
“It is not so much being close to home, although that is nice, I think for me that I have been competing in halfpipe competitions for so long that I have been kind of going to the same places over and over and doing the same grind for so many years,” Gold said. “Moving into this season, I am going to be focusing a lot more on filming — to be in front of the camera to be clear.”
Over the last few years, Gold has grown increasingly interested in exploring the backcountry and wants to find creative ways to bring his experiences to others through film.
“I have been getting more and more into doing some exploration in the backcountry and trying to learn about avy safety,” Gold said. “I just feel like there is more room for creativity. Last year I got to go to Japan, which is something I have been wanting to do for 10 years amidst the crazy competition schedule. This year, I am going to lean more into that.”
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Gold may compete at a competition or two this season, but he said he will mainly focus on doing things that excite and interest him. In terms of the 2026 Winter Olympics in Italy, Gold has not made a firm decision one way or the other, but is leaning towards not trying to make the team in order to pursue his interests outside of competing.
“Right now, I don’t really know for certain, but I am hoping that I can expand upon the filming thing,” Gold said. “If that happens, I don’t think I will try to go again. The Olympics are a really cool experience, but it’s also so much work. My goals have sort of changed. My 7-year-old self decided I wanted to go to the Olympics, but now my 30-year-old self has decided I want to go ride more pow. I am adjusting with that in mind.”
Gold has spent the last few weeks getting back into snowboard shape by exploring the mountain bike trails around Frisco and Breckenridge. He said he is excited to get into the backcountry to start filming as soon as possible.
Former Summit Action Sports athlete Rochelle “Rocke” Weinberg could not be more stoked to make her debut on the women’s rookie halfpipe team. The 14-year-old Steamboat Springs athlete is currently training with the U.S. team in Switzerland and is trying to take in every moment of her rookie season.
“I have learned a lot, I have also had a lot of chocolate, seen some very, very beautiful backdrops of the Alpenglow as we go up the gondola,” Weinberg said. “I have had a blast training at Saas-Fee the last few weeks. It has been an amazing experience and opportunity.”
Weinberg will begin her season at the U.S. Revolution Tour’s stop at Copper Mountain Resort from Jan. 22-26 and will then immediately leave for Gangwon, South Korea, to represent Team USA at the Youth Olympic Games. Weinberg will make her debut on the world cup circuit once she turns 15.
Weinberg hopes to continue to grow as a young snowboarder throughout the season while also not taking herself or the competitions too seriously.
“My goals are just to continue learning and growing and seeing new countries — have a bunch of fun this year and ride different disciplines,” Weinberg said. “I can’t wait until I am riding some different pipes around the world. That sounds super cool.”
Weinberg will train in Steamboat Springs throughout the season while making trips to Copper Mountain to train with her snowboard coach, Mike Lund.
Rounding out the list of 54 snowboard athletes are Summit County’s Red Gerard, Chris Corning, Jake Canter and Kaitlyn Adams, who were once again named to the men’s pro and women’s rookie slopestyle/big air teams.
Like Blackwell, Canter was promoted to the men’s pro team after an incredible 2023-24 competition season. Most notably, Canter placed 11th at the World Championships in Georgia and finished the season ranked 17th on the world snowboard points list in slopestyle.
Corning will return to the slopes this winter season and will look to back up his bronze medal performance from the World Championships. Corning, 24, finished the season with three podium finishes and ranked ninth on the world snowboard points list in slopestyle and third in big air.
Similar to Gold, Gerard took a more laid-back approach to the 2022-23 season, but still did enough to be named to this season’s pro slopestyle and big air team. Gerard competed only twice last season but, as always, remained poised to compete.
Adams, 18, will continue to gain experience as part of the U.S. rookie team and will compete on world cup circuit while trying to make more finals throughout the course of this season.
Adams made her debut at the Winter Dew Tour at Copper last winter, and is looking forward to hopefully attending the event again later this winter.
The first world cup snowboard halfpipe competition will take place from Dec. 6-8 at Genting Resort Secret Garden in China, with the first world cup slopestyle competition taking place in Laax, Switzerland on Jan. 17-20.
The first big air competition began on Saturday, Oct. 21, in Chur, Switzerland and featured Canter, who recorded a top run score of 69.66 in qualifiers. The score was not enough to advance to the final.
The Toyota U.S. Grand Prix will return to Copper from Dec. 13-16 and will feature big air and halfpipe competitions.
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