EDWARDS — This season, the U.S. Snowboarding Team will take a page out of alpine skiing’s playbook and use a development squad to grow young athletes.
In July, local resident Meghan Tierney learned she was the only female named to that team.
Tierney, 17, has seen quite a bit of success in snowboardcross as of late — winning the NorAm title last season — so being named to the team wasn’t a surprise. Moreover, it was a relief.
“It has always been my goal to make the U.S. team, whether it was the B team or now the development team, so I was really happy to learn I was on the development team,” she said last week.
While she will now have access to the U.S. facilities in Park City, Tierney says she will still spend a good part of the season training with her coaches at the Copper Mountain-based International Snowboard Training Center.
International Snowboard Training Center founder Ross Hindman says the advent of the U.S. team’s snowboardcross development squad was a great move for the program.
“It’s definitely a good thing for the athletes that are coming up,” Hindman said. “Snowboard cross is a longevity sport. Some of the competitors that have been competing in it have been competing for 12, 15 years. So it doesn’t leave a lot of room for newcomers coming up in the world of boarder cross. ... We were having a lot of people leave the sport that were very good, but there’s no opportunity on the actual team because no one is leaving it, very few people retire and the team can only be so big. ... The development group provides a pathway for these young athletes to get recognized and get support.”
Four people were picked for the development team, with Meghan being the only female.
“Obviously, she’s seen as the best up and coming female under the age of 20,” Hindman said. “Now, a lot of things can happen from where she is now to four years from now, so that part is really going to be up to her, if she can make the transition from being a snowboarder to becoming an athlete. She has a lot of raw talent, and that has brought her a lot of success, but becoming an athlete and dealing with everything that comes along with that, is a little bit more difficult.”
A LIKENESS TO LINDSEY
Anita Jacobellis knows all about raising an athlete out of a snowboarder. Her daughter, Lindsey, is a seven-time X Games champion and widely considered the most talented female rider in the sport of snowboardcross.
Anita always said if Meghan keeps on the path she’s on she’s be competing alongside Lindsey.
“Meghan just has this spirit about her that reminds me of Lindsey,” Anita Jacobellis said. “She has gumption; she’s not intimidated; she likes the speed. To see her sticking with it is wonderful.”
Anita Jacobellis and Tierney first met at Mt. Hood when Meghan was in sixth grade. Anita became Meghan’s tutor and became especially fond of the young snowboarding prodigy.
“She was so much fun to work with, she made me laugh every day,” Anita Jacobellis said. “She’s a great kid, very wise and sophisticated in her thinking. She’s also very artistic and a real beauty, so she’s got a lot of wonderful, positive things going for her.”
Anita Jacobellis says Lindsey is planning on sticking with the sport until 2018 at the earliest, keeping consistent with the longevity aspect of the sport of which Hindman speaks.
While Anita would like to see Lindsey — who turned 29 on Aug. 19 — make it to 2018 and beyond, she has another hope for her, as well.
“I’m hoping that they’ll develop team SBX, where one rider starts the race and it trips the gate for someone at the top like a relay,” she said. “Maybe Lindsey and Meghan will compete together.”