Summit snowboarders primed for 2022-23 competition season, 2023 World Cup and local competitions
It is no secret that Summit County is home to a wide array of snowsports athletes. From retired hall of famers to world class athletes, Summit County has become a mecca for athletes to train and live year-round.
Over the past few weeks, snowboarders and skiers alike have been on the snow, preparing for the upcoming competition season.
Snowboard slopestyle and big air
For 17-year-old local Kaitlyn Adams and two-time Silverthorne Olympian Chris Corning the season will officially get underway at the end of the week in Edmonton, Alberta, in Canada for a big air snowboarding World Cup competition.
Adams has been hard at work with her coach, William Rivera of Worldwide Snowboarding, to prepare for her first season on the World Cup circuit. After being crowned the Nor-Am Cup champion last year, Adams is emerging onto the World Cup circuit with plenty of experience under her belt
This experience, alongside training throughout the summer with the U.S. snowboard rookie team, has made Adams feel well prepared for her first competition of the season.
“I have been training a lot of Copper,” Adams said. “There haven’t been a lot of jumps or anything yet, so I haven’t gotten to do much training on stuff I will be competing on. I have been riding a lot though.”
According to previous reporting done by the Summit Daily News, Adams is eager to compete at bigger venues and courses than she is typically used to this season. She hopes she can do her best in order to perform at her highest level in the sport.
“I want to land my runs and hopefully make finals,” Adams said of her hopes for Edmonton and the season as a whole. “Hopefully I can get all the tricks that I want and try my best to make finals in every World Cup.”
On the other hand, Corning is returning to competition after a busy Olympic year last season. He has attended the 2018 PyeongChang Olympics and the 2022 Beijing Olympics, competing in both the snowboard slopestyle and big air competitions.
“I am coming off that last season ready for a new year,” Corning said. “I had a lot of ups and downs that I was kind of struggling with in how to deal with. I am ready to start a new year, learn some new tricks and really try to enjoy this year.”
Over the last few weeks, Corning, 23, has been busy training and preparing for what will be another busy season with the FIS Snowboard, freestyle and freeski World Championships from Feb. 19 to Mar. 5 in the country of Georgia.
“I have been at the gym a bunch getting ready,” Corning said. “I have been working on my mobility and all of that fun stuff in order to snowboard at the highest level.”
Although there may be less pressure to perform with it not being an Olympic year, Corning says he likes to keep the pressure high no matter what as it helps him perform bigger tricks and stomp runs.
“I would say there is less pressure, but I still like to put pressure on myself because whenever I don’t have pressure I seem to not perform as well,” Corning said. “All in all, there is less pressure than last year, but you still want to perform well and the competitions are going to be just as hard as they were last year.”
In terms of goals and hopes for the season, Corning has a desire to place within the top five of all the competitions he competes in and doing the best he possibly can.
“As long as I do my best and I do the best run I possibly can, then that is all I can really ask for,” Corning said. “You never know what exactly the judges are looking for at these contests so it is pretty tough to have a performance based goal coming into the season.”
Both Adams and Corning will compete at Edmonton’s in-stadium big air competition on Friday, Dec. 9. Qualifications will occur on Friday night, with finals taking place on Saturday, Dec. 10.
After competing in Edmonton, Adams and Corning will return to Summit County to compete at the VISA Big Air competition at Copper Mountain Resort from Thursday, Dec. 15 to Saturday, Dec. 17.
Summit’s Red Gerard and Taylor Gold are also expected to return to competition after competing at the 2022 Winter Olympics.
Gerard placed fourth in slopestyle and fifth in the big air snowboard competitions in Beijing, while Gold placed fifth in the snowboard halfpipe competition.
In the halfpipe, Dillon-based snowboarder Chase Blackwell is eager to get his 2022-23 season underway.
Last season, Blackwell, 23, missed getting on the U.S. Olympic halfpipe snowboard team, but still had a few noteworthy performances.
Most notably, Blackwell placed fourth and third respectively at a Nor-Am Cup halfpipe competition at Copper at the end of February last year.
The two performances were the highest finishes for Blackwell all season and he says they gave him the momentum he needs to start the 2022-23 season.
“For me it is nothing new,” Blackwell said. “It’s about landing runs in every contest and every heat no matter the conditions.No matter the outcome whether I make finals or I make the podium I am usually pretty happy to be landing the runs I want to be showcasing.”
Similar to Corning, Blackwell feels like this season still has a level of pressure.
“It is a different feeling,” Blackwell said. “All those pressures are still there, you still want to do your best at every contest. It is more big picture on the off (Olympic) years.”
Blackwell hopes to do well at every event this season and get into the top 10 in the halfpipe points list.
Blackwell will begin his season next week at the Toyota U.S. Grand Prix at Copper on Wednesday, Dec. 14 for qualifiers with finals following on Friday, Dec. 16.
“It’s always good to try to push myself in this Copper pipe,” Blackwell said. “I am not always doing full runs in it so it’s really fun to link it all together in front of everyone you know.”
In terms of local para-athletes, Silverthorne’s Garrett Geros of Adaptive Action Sports is eager for the new season after winning a silver medal in snowboardcross at the 2022 Beijing Paralympic Games.
“I have put the medal in the past,” Geros said. “It doesn’t really matter anymore and I am focused on what I have in the future. My mindset moving forward is just clear from last year because it is in the past.”
Geros and several of his Adaptive Action Sports teammates got their seasons underway a few weeks ago at a World Cup competition in Landgraaf in the Netherlands. Geros placed eighth and fourth in the two banked slalom races he competed in.
Fellow Adaptive Action Sports teammate, and Summit County local, Zach Miller placed third in the second banked slalom race while Frisco’s Mike Minor placed third in the upper limb impairment 1 classification.
Recognizing that this season is the first of the four year Paralympic cycle, Geros hopes to just feel comfortable competing again.
In terms of goals, Geros is hoping to make the U.S. team, make a few podiums and keep his world ranking high.
“I am currently ranked fourth in both disciplines so I want to keep excelling at that and getting a better world ranking than I have now,” Geros said.
Geros is especially looking forward to the Winter Dew Tour at Copper from Feb. 24-26. Last season, he did not compete at the event due to being at another competition in Germany, but is looking forward to competing in front of friends and family this year.
“Hopefully I can bring home a podium at Dew Tour,” Geros said. “That is definitely a big goal and dream of mine.”
Copper will host the Toyota U.S. Grand Prix and the VISA Big Air competition in conjunction with one another. For a full schedule of events visit CopperColorado.com.
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