The pack mentality becomes apparent as some of Ski and Snowboard Vail's best junior snowboarders pile out of their coaches' van Thursday afternoon. The group has just come back from training at Copper Mountain in preparation for USASA Junior Nationals, which starts Monday after training days Saturday and Sunday. When riders Ellen Feldman, 14, and Lindsey Telling, 15, step up to the tape recorder to be interviewed about their final competition of the season, their peers circle around to watch and listen
The message? Though competitive snowboarding is an individual sport, Telling and Feldman are members of a tight-knit group whose concept of team runs deep.So deep, in fact, that their teammates are curious to see how the two represent the group as a whole as they answer questions. When asked about the all-for-one mentality, teammate Max Provost, 14, jumps into the conversation."It's important that we support each other and cheer each other on," Provost said. "When someone's competing, we tell them to kill it."SSCV has qualified 24 competitors for this year's nationals - the most ever for the program. More than 1,300 competitors will descend on Copper for the competition, which is the biggest junior snowboard event in the country.Feldman said the event is the perfect way to end the season."It's really important because you get to show everything you've learned the whole year and you get to see all of your competition," she said.
Snowboarding director Ben Boyd said the list of 24 qualifiers for SSCV represents a long season of hard work and dedication.The only snowboarding program that has more riders qualified, said Boyd, is Stratton Mountain School in Vermont - the reigning giant for producing U.S. Snowboard Team athletes.The Brother and sister combo of Ben and Lindsey and Jacobellis represent a couple of the names that have come out of Stratton to make names for themselves in the sport."It's been an awesome year," Boyd said. "We've taken a couple of risks, but they've paid off. We put together the first-ever dedicated boardercross program this year. All of our kids from that program have made nationals. We've also seen a lot of our younger kids like Lindsey step up. There's a reason we've qualified so many kids. It's because they've all worked hard."Athletes to qualify from the program for next week's competition are: Sean Roley, Maddie Roley, Bryan Daino, Kendall Wilson, Provost, Feldman, Mackensie Boris, Julya Chapman, Andy Jones, Zac Layman, Collin Scott, Telling, Ryan Wachendorfer, Jarryd Williams, Nikita Apotolakos, Tommie Bennett, Broc Waring, Brodie Waring, Steven MacCutcheon, Deacon Maloney, Cody Brown, Kim Krahulec, Stephanie Hickey and Matt Hunter.Boyd said he expects every one of his qualifiers to perform well. With that being said, there is the upper echelon of the group, which includes riders like Telling, Chapman, Broc Waring, Daino, Hallenbeck, MacCutcheon and Layman, that he expects to be in the mix for podium finishes.
Getting up to speedNationals represents the close of a dream season for Telling. She qualified for the Winter X Games in boardercross in January and finished 29th overall in the halfpipe at the U.S. Open in Stratton, Vt., in early March.Telling will be showcasing all of her talents at Copper. She'll compete in halfpipe, boardercross, slopestyle, giant slalom and slalom."I'm feeling pretty confident right now," she said. "Julya Chapman, Jamie Anderson and Jordan Karlinski are all in my group, though, and they're pretty sick."Anderson, who is from California, and Karlinski, of Aspen, both competed at this year's Winter X Games. Chapman finished 35th overall in the halfpipe at this year's U.S. Open. Waring will try to follow up his third-place finish in the halfpipe at this year's U.S. Open with more strong results. The 12 year old will be competing in halfpipe, slopestyle, slalom and possibly GS.
"We're trying to get him in the GS," Boyd said. "He's good at everything."Daino, 14, will try to match or one-up his second-place finish in the overall at last year's nationals. He will compete in slopestyle, boardercross and halfpipe."He's probably stronger in halfpipe and boardercross, but he's not far behind in slopestyle," Boyd said. "He did all the professional events this year. He did all the Grand Prix and he did (USSA) western regionals. He's got a trick that he made up for the halfpipe called the Daino flip. It virtually looks like a cat falling out of a window."Layman, also 14, and Bennett, 17, are both coming off their first pro events at the U.S. Open and are riding with confidence, Boyd said. Hallenbeck, 9, who is attending his first nationals, is also one who could make some noise. "Once they qualify, then they gotta take the next step up," Boyd said. "There are quite a few dark horses."
Junior Worlds canceledMacCutcheon was originally slated to head to Switzerland this Friday for his second FIS Junior Worlds. The event has been canceled, however, because of poor snow conditions, meaning MacCutcheon will be at Copper competing in boardercross, GS and slalom."They'll probably reschedule for next fall," Boyd said. "They'll probably have it somewhere like Chile, or somewhere where there's snow."Nate Peterson can be reached at 949-0555, ext. 608, or via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.Schedule
Saturday and Sunday - TrainingMonday through Friday - Boardercross, slopestyle, halfpipe, giant slalom and slalom competition. All riders will be broken up into five groups, with will compete in assigned disciplines depending on the day.Saturday, April 9 - Weather day if needed.About USASAThe United States of America Snowboard Association is the largest grassroots snowboarding organization in the United States. USASA hosts more than 480 events annually at more than 200 resorts throughout the country. Each of the 36 USASA series holds eight to 20 events each year. Beginner, intermediate and expert riders, ages 4 to 74, compete in 32 separate divisions in their respective regional series to earn a chance to participate in the USASA National Championship, where they vie for 840 medals. In addition, more than $15,000 in scholarships is awarded by USASA to National Championship participants each year at Nationals. Vail Colorado