Vail snowboarders make World Rookie Tour finals
VAIL — Three local snowboarders have now qualified for the World Rookie Tour finals, leaving coaches feeling good about Ski & Snowboard Club Vail’s prospects in continuing to graduate athletes into the top ranks of competitive snowboarding.
With big boots to fill — such as those of U.S. Pro Team members Jake Pates, of Eagle, and Ryan Wachendorfer, of Edwards — will the future of snowboarding also have a strong local contingency?
A good indicator may lie in the World Rookie Tour finals, an annual event taking place March 25-30 in Austria, which brings together the top snowboarders from all over the world who are less than 18 years of age. Each country gets to send 12 athletes, three boys and three girls from halfpipe and slopestyle.
Every once and a while a 15-year-old like Jake Canter makes it to X Games, or Jack Coyne drops into the halfpipe at the Grand Prix at age 16, but for the rest of the top teenage snowboarders, the World Rookie Tour finals is pretty much the top event in the sport.
Coyne himself competed in the World Rookie Tour finals en route to his nomination to the U.S. Rookie Team last season. The Edwards local and Ski & Snowboard Club Vail athlete said the experience allowed him to see how he stacked up against an international field after years of participating in regional and national contests. He also made a few friends along the way.
“It’s an amazing event that brings together people that you probably wouldn’t meet ever before, kids from all over Europe,” Coyne — who just returned home from Switzerland after placing fourth in the FIS Junior World Championship halfpipe event — said this week after hearing the news of Ski & Snowboard Club Vail qualifying another athlete to the World Rookie Tour finals.
For Ski & Snowboard Club Vail, the Austria event has become the big target for coaches throughout the season.
Program director Chris Laske said he has been pleased with the results throughout all ranks of the program.
“The kids have been getting great coaching and it’s showing at the contests,” Laske said.
At the first event of the year, a USASA Halfpipe competition and World Rookie Tour qualifier, Olivia Lisle and Kade Martin both locked in their spots for World Rookie Tour finals. Nine other athletes made the podium.
“It was a tough and snowy day but the athletes at SSCV did incredible,” said coach Ronnie Barr said of the January halfpipe competition.
On Sunday, the club’s slopestyle athletes attempted to qualify through, with Hayden Tyler winning the 12-13 year old division and punching his ticket to the World Rookie Tour finals.
“We also had four medals and a whole slew of top 10s,” Barr said. “I think it’s really cool how many results we’re seeing, and how we’re seeing really well rounded talent coming out of Club Vail.”