Anything goes at final Copper halfpipe event
COPPER MOUNTAIN – Sometimes in coaching, it helps to remind yourself what your athletes go through in competition each week. That’s why Team Summit snowboard coach Jim Smith was in the start gate Saturday during the final halfpipe event of this year’s Copper Snowboard Series.
Smith has coached countless kids through countless halfpipe runs. Saturday, he was in their boots.
“The kids get to see the coaches get out there and get in the starting gate next to them and cheer us on while we cheer them on and coach us back while we coach them,” Smith explained. “It’s kind of an end-of-the-season fun thing for the coaches and the kids.”
Smith wasn’t the only coach out there – Justin McCarthy, Eli Lieberman and Leslie Glenn also competed. But Smith showed why he’s the head coach, winning the Men’s Open class in front of McCarthy and Lieberman. Glenn was second in the Women’s Open class behind student Clair Bidez.
“I think it probably does something for my credibility among the kids,” Smith said of taking first place. “They seem to have a good time with it. They tackled me at the finish. More than anything it was just a fun thing.”
With the freestyle portion of the Copper Series ending this weekend – the final slopestyle event is today – spots for the United States of America Snowboard Association (USASA) National Championships are being finalized. The Copper Series gets a finite number of spots in each of the five events – pipe, slopestyle, boardercross, slalom and giant slalom. Nationals run from March 24 to 30 at Sunday River in Maine.
“That’s what it’s all about,” said Silverthorne’s Jimmy Simon, who won the season title in halfpipe and boardercross in the Master Men division.
The halfpipe win was a lot easier for Simon than the boardercross win. He was the only Master Men competitor in the pipe all year. In boardercross, he had to beat a handful of strong riders.
“There’s more guys and they’re more competitive, bigger, stronger,” Simon said of the boardercross.
Simon hopes to contend in all five events this year at nationals. But he’s most focused on the halfpipe, the event he placed third in last year when nationals were at Mammoth Mountain in California.
Team Summit’s Bidez wrapped up the Women’s Open Class season title with her victory in Saturday’s halfpipe. She had already won the boardercross season title. The 15-year-old Eagle County resident benefitted from being the only Open Class woman to enter every series event, but she fended off all challengers throughout the season. With a polished McTwist and a 700-degree spin recently added to her trick bag, Bidez is hoping for a break-out performance in the pipe at Sunday River.
“I’ve gotten my run down,” she said. “I want to do well. I’m gonna go for it.”
Team Summit has historically done very well at nationals, and Smith said his riders are on track to uphold that tradition.
“We come away with several medals every year. We’re excited to go to the East and represent the West, represent Colorado and Team Summit.
“We kind of have home-field advantage when we’re competing (at Copper). It’s nice for us to get out of our local bubble and test our skills at nationals, and that’s one reason that we’re excited about it.”
Bidez and her brother Dylan won overall national titles two years ago. Dylan Bidez was last year’s boardercross champion. He finished second to Garrick Abt at Copper this season in the Breaker Boys division. Jake Black is this year’s Youth Men boardercross champion, Kim Krahulec won for Youth Women and Libby Pansing won for Junior Women.
Other boardercross winners from Copper this season are: Mike Campbell (Grommet boys), Chaz Charbonneau (Menehune boys), Kylie Nilson (Breaker Girls), Parker Bremner (Junior Men), Michelle Visocky (Jams Women), Dave Gridley (Jams Men), Wendy Pons (Senior Women), Scott Walker (Senior Men), Lauriann Burress (Master Women), Diane Giusti (Legend Women), Paul Krahulec (Legend Men), John Cunningham (Kahuna Men) and Brandy Willette (Open Men).
The overall winners in halfpipe and slopestyle will be announced this week. The Copper Series ends Saturday with a morning giant slalom and an afternoon slalom.
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