Action County: Catherine Ashton
It’s never too late to answer a calling. Summit County’s Catherine Ashton, a 34-year-old architect and single mother, says that when she sensed a recent calling to pursue competitive snowboarding she wasted little time responding to it.Ashton got back into snowboarding two years ago after taking a 10-year hiatus from the sport. During that time, she had a son and took up telemarking. When she was finally reacquainted with her snowboard last season, the California native said something clearly clicked. “When I got back on the board, I wondered what in the world I was doing (having left snowboarding). It was huge,” she said. “When I saw boardercross and it being an Olympic sport, I thought, ‘That’s what I’m supposed to be doing.’ It was a really strong call.”Ashton, a resident of Breckenridge, entered her first United States Amateur Snowboarding Association (USASA) competition in January in Lake Tahoe. When she went to compete at Boreal Mountain Resort, she was intending to just get her feet wet, she said.
Not only did Ashton get acclimated to the world of boardercross competition while in Tahoe, she walked away with a second-place finish, which qualified her for the USASA 2006 National Championships. This year’s championships will be held in Tahoe, March 25 to April 1.Ashton, who is hoping for a top-three finish in the open division, says she’s trying not to get distracted by concerns about her age.”I feel kind of weird that I’m so old doing it, but you’re only as old as you think you are,” she said. “I’ll be competing with kids that are half my age.”The 12-year resident of Summit made a bid for the Winter X Games earlier this season at a Copper Mountain qualifier but ended up falling on the course, tweaking her back and withdrawing from the time trials.
Ashton may attempt to turn pro and join the World Cup circuit next year, though she says she is still weighing her options with regard to work and family. For now, snowboarding competition is about “having fun and following dreams,” she said.When did you first start snowboarding?”It was probably 1990 when my brother took me to A-Basin. He showed me my front edge, he showed me my back edge, then he took me up to the top of Pallavicini and said ‘get down.'”
Do you have any doubts or fears about competing in snowboarding?”I had a spook bug earlier this year. I needed to chew it up and spit it out and I finally did. It was after a really bad fall I took at Copper. I did six flips and I thought, ‘What is going to be broken when I get out of this fall?’ It was pretty ugly. I fell off of a knoll that had been cut off by a (snow) cat. My new motto is ‘respect the man-made features.'”
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