Snowboard nationals take over Copper Mountain
COPPER MOUNTAIN – The United States of America Snowboard Association is holding its national championships at Copper Mountain this week. Giant slalom, slalom, superpipe, slopestyle and boardercross events have been going on all day, every day since Monday, and wrap up today. On Thursday, the nationals were in full swing, running smoothly with three days of hectic operation out of the way. We spent the morning running to and fro, trying to capture the nationals’ essence. 10:15 a.m. – At the finish of the boardercross course between the American Eagle and Flyer lifts, youth and junior boys and girls are coming down one at a time for time trials. The skies are blue and the temperatures are already over 40, causing slushy conditions. A small group of anxious riders are gathered around the leaderboard to see if and where they will race in the upcoming heats.Summit locals Zach Black and Nichole Mason are among the competitors in the 14-15 youth age group. Mason finished sixth in the youth girls halfpipe Wednesday, but said boardercross is her favorite event. She finished third in last year’s youth nationals boardercross. 11:15 a.m. – A mass of snowboarders are gathered around the top of the slopestyle course in the Catalyst Terrain park, waiting for the skiers to finish so they can take their practice run before the freestyle event starts at 1 p.m.
Open class Team Summit riders Jake Black and Dylan Bidez are sitting with their coach, Jim Smith, at the edge of the entry discussing their strategy. Bidez, 14, finished second in Wednesday’s open class boardercross, competing against some men twice his age. This is the Minturn resident’s eighth USASA nationals. The Keystone resident Black took fourth in the open boardercross race. This is the 16-year-old’s fifth nationals. “I plan my run everytime before I do it,” Bidez said. “This time I’m going to do a backside rodeo to a Cab seven. I don’t know what I’m going to do on the hip yet, but I’m going to finish it with a McTwist on the quarterpipe.””I have a couple of options,” Black said. “I’m thinking a switch backside five to a frontside nine, or a Cab nine to a frontside nine. I’m going to go pretty big on them.”11:30 a.m. – Black drops in on his practice run and lands a big switch backside 540 off the first jump. He eases off on the second hit, landing a frontside 360 before riding out of sight.Bidez follows up with a switch backside 540, but doesn’t stick it. He finishes the run by landing his best trick, a McTwist, on the quarterpipe.11:43 a.m. – Crowded at the top of the Catalyst half pipe, the Menehune 10-11 boys and Breaker 12-13 boys are waiting to take their trip through the pipe. Coaches are passing out Red Bull, sunscreen and, in some cases, oxygen to the riders.
The Breakers are in their second of two runs. Judges will take the best score of the rider’s two runs to determine the winner.A young competitor from Vermont gets too far out of the pipe and cases the landing on the lip. The East Coast rider tumbles end over end down the pipe, but pops up and rides to the bottom to the relief of several other competitors and spectators.12:20 p.m. – Riders are charging down the boardercross course every few minutes in heats of six. Youth boys and girls are alternating back and forth, with the boys in the quarterfinals and the girls now in the semis. Nichole Mason’s father, Brick Mason, is watching from the bottom with a Team Summit fleece on and walkie talkie in hand. When asked if he gets nervous watching his daughter fly over jumps and elbow her way down the course, Mason says it’s all part of the sport. “I don’t think about it,” he says. “There’s always the possibility (to get hurt), but I encourage her.”12:25 p.m. – Nichole Mason’s semifinal heat crosses the finish line, but the Dillon resident is nowhere to be seen. Brick Mason gets word that Nichole fell during the race. He is now waiting to see what happened. Several minutes later, Nichole is brought down by a ski patroller in a stretcher. She suffered a dislocated shoulder when another racer speed checked in front of her, causing her to catch an edge and take a hard fall. 12:35 p.m. – Mason, with her left arm in a sling, says she is in pain and frustrated.
“I would have made it to the finals if I didn’t fall,” Mason said. “It’s not going to affect how I ride. I’m not afraid of getting hurt. It can happen to anyone.”Local resultsWith more than 50 Summit County riders competing at the USASA’s, several locals have finished near the top of their division this week. Some local results include: open class Garrick “Twiggy” Abt (12th, GS; 24th, slalom; 17th, boardercross); Adam Kisiel (13th, senior men halfpipe); Grommet Flynt Doyle (5th, halfpipe; 8th, slopestyle; 5th, boardercross); senior men’s division Tom Paladi (13th, slopestyle; 18th, halfpipe); open class Tyler Krahulec (20th, GS; 23rd, slalom; 26th boardercross); and open women’s class Kim Krahulec (6th, GS; 8th, slalom; 7th, boardercross).Thursday’s final results were not available as of press time.Andy Frame can be reached at (970) 668-3998, ext. 236, or at email@example.com.
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