Vail snowboarder Leith wins 4 straight NorAms
VAIL — Local snowboarder Senna Leith made an offhand comment to his father before leaving his home in West Vail to start the North America Cup season.
“He said, ‘I really want to win these four events’ he was about to leave for,” recalls Larry Leith. “It kind of caught me off guard because it was a little out of character for Senna. I remember sort of smirking and saying ‘yeah,’ but also in my mind thinking how focused he sounded on that goal.”
On Friday, Senna Leith became the first snowboard cross racer ever to start a NorAm season with four consecutive wins.
‘The racing was on point’
In a sport where anything can happen and a win can be a result of another racer’s misfortune, Senna Leith says he takes comfort in the fact that in all four finals, he was in first for the duration of the race.
“I had the hole shot and kept it all the way to the finish for all four wins,” Leith said. “For me, that kind of solidified it was legit … the wax was perfect, the racing was on point and it just worked.”
Snowboard cross is a rough and tumble sport that takes place on an icy track containing large jumps, rollers and banked turns. With multiple racers taking to a course at once, crashes are often spectacular and can be life threatening.
At just 19, Leith already credits experience for his success. He’s had a number of bad crashes over the last couple of years — he suffered a concussion training in Argentina in the summer of 2016 and in August of 2015 he suffered a herniated disk in his back.
“I’ve really had to work hard to get my body to a point where I’m comfortable with my endurance, power and speed,” Leith said. “Right now I feel like all of that is really where it needs to be … I feel like I’m at my lifetime peak fitness.”
LOVE OF THE SPORT
Leith’s coach, Jan Klemsa with the International Snowboard Training Center, said Leith was a good snowboarder before he decided to start competing, which may have led to his success in snowboard cross.
“Growing up in Vail and riding Vail Mountain, that plays a big role to being an overall good snowboarder,” Klemsa said. “Back in the day, everybody had to be a good snowboarder before you decided you wanted to compete. These days competitions start at 5 or 6 years old, but I think that overall background plays a big role in his riding. It’s just a pleasure to ride with him, on the days off as well.”
Leith will be back in the Vail area at the end of the month for NorAm events at nearby Ski Cooper.
“I’m hoping for fresh snow as well,” he said.
A snowboarder through and through, he never travels without a powder board.
“I just love all snowboarding,” he said. “It doesn’t matter what part of the sport or what dicipline you’re talking about, I love it.”
Leith had invites to several World Cup events this season, some of which would have taken place during the start of the NorAm season. He decided to skip World Cup competition to focus on winning the NorAm circuit, which he thinks will help his chances of making the Olympic team in 2018.
“If I take one of the top-3 spots in the NorAm, then I will be guaranteed World Cup starts during the Olympic season next year,” he said. “Olympics of 2022 would be my real goal, but I thought I may as well go for next year as well as long as I’m riding well.”
For Larry Leith, Olympics, World Cup and NorAm are all the same.
“As a parent, it doesn’t matter what he does,” Leith said. “But to see him realize wow if I work really hard for something and I spend 10,000 hours going for it, good things are going to come from it. That’s the life lesson right there.”