Through pain, flying through the air
Not many athletes can just show up at events without training and rip it.Freeskier Taylor Seaton seems to be part of the exception, but it’s not something he hopes to continue.Seaton, the Battle Mountain student and Cooper Freeride Team member, has been in the mix with pros at events like the Aspen Open and landing on the podium in United States Ski and Snowboard Association events.But aside from the competitions, Seaton doesn’t really put on his ski boots.”I try not to ski as much as I can,” said Seaton, who is nursing a long-standing heel injury. “I’m probably not going to train unless it’s a bluebird day.”Last year, Seaton broke his left heel twice, and couldn’t compete in any events. “I practiced on the trampoline quite a bit when I was able to, and thought about what I could do next year to bring me back up to the level I wanted to be at,” Seaton said. “Still, not being able to ski – everyone else (was) getting better than you and it’s tough to deal with.”After some summer training at Mammoth Mountain in California and early-season training in New Zealand and at Copper, Seaton injured his left heel again at the U.S. Freeskiing Open slopestyle competition.”I’ve been competing and not training much, trying to get the bruising down,” Seaton said. “In New Zealand, I was getting pain every time I landed – a tingly feeling in my foot. It started to go away before the U.S. Open, but now it’s back.”
In lieu of training, Seaton has been working out and going to physical therapy.Still, Seaton isn’t missing a beat.Recently at the Aspen Open, Seaton took sixth, just missing a spot in the pro-heavy finals. But his path to the semifinals wasn’t without pain.”I had (my heel) taped up, and after every run I’d be like, ‘Oh God, I don’t know if I can do another run,” Seaton said. “I only did one qualifying run because it hurt so bad. I was hoping I’d have one good run.”His qualifying run put him through, and in the semis, Seaton nailed a longer-than usual run in Aspen’s giant pipe. Seaton’s run started with a rightside 540, then a leftside 540 and went into an alley oop left 540. After a straight air, Seaton hit a right 900, an alley oop right 540, and following a straight air, finished with a left 900.”There wasn’t a lot of pressure on me because I’ve been riding well in pipe,” Seaton said. “I had my run down and wasn’t worrying about it. I was hoping I was going to get into finals.”Seaton earned a spot on the podium in a three USSA competitions earlier this year, and will be in Big Bear, California next weekend before Junior Olympics.”I still want to get back to training soon so I can actually work on my run and make it better because throughout the season, kids get better and kids my age are starting to catch up.”
Early birdThe judges may not have seen it all, but Patrick Baskins know he nailed his entire halfpipe run at a NorAm in Tamarac, Idaho two weeks ago, “It was probably the best competition run I’ve ever had,” said Baskins’, a Battle Mountain sophomore and Copper Freeride Team member. “That was my ideal run throughout the season, and I accomplished it.”Baskins started with a 540 mute, went into a rightside 540 reverse mute, then to a 900 tail grab. After an allie oop 180 critical, Baskins nailed a 1080.”It was the trickiest run thrown,” Baskins said. “(Mike) Riddle was throwing 720’s at the end.”For his efforts, Baskins was given the second-highest score, next to Riddle, a pro rider.”I dropped in a little early, so that might have hurt my score,” Baskins said.Still, Baskins found plenty to enjoy from his performance.”I was just really happy I could land my run with the amplitude I had,” he said. “It was pretty awesome.”
The 15-year old Baskins has been picking up solid results all year, including top finishes at USSA events and a top 15 in a pro-filled field at the U.S. Freeskiing Open.With his results, Baskins qualified for a World Cup event in Italy, although he won’t be able to make it.”I don’t have my passport yet, but I’m getting it soon,” Baskins said.As for the domestic lineup, Baskins will be in Big Bear, hoping for the top spot that assures the skier a spot in next year’s The Honda Ski Tour. After that, Baskins will be in a few more competitions, including the US Freeskiing Open in Stratton, Vt.”Last year I did really well there, and I’m hoping to do well again,” Baskins said.Sports Writer Ian Cropp can be reached at 748-2935 or email@example.com.