Bidez, MacCutcheon land spot on Jr. National Team
“It’s the first time I’ve ever jumped over a truck,” she said.
Bidez, of Minturn, along with Eagle-Vail snowboarder Steve MacCutcheon and Summit’s Walker Savidge and Kim Krahulec, have all qualified for the U.S. Junior National Snowboard Team and the World Championships. They all compete for Team Summit and have been picking up trophies before they learned to spell their names.
MacCutcheon, 14, made the parallel giant-slalom team by placing third overall in the alpine competition last March in Mammoth Mountain, Calif. Bidez applied for the spot, using a third-place Triple Overall performance, as well as a solid first run in the GS to make the team. Bidez is also an alternate in the halfpipe, her specialty.
Both are arriving on a expanding snowboard-racing scene. No longer do the skiers stand and laugh at the boarders attempting to carve out a decent slalom line. The duo takes their training seriously. While most high school freshman are sleeping in on Saturday mornings, MacCutcheon and his parents, Pamela and Richard, are awake at 4 a.m. to drive to a training site or a competition.
“I feel like I have to put a lot of dedication into it,” said MacCutcheon, who’s ultimate goal is the Olympics. “The younger generation is starting to scare me. They’re getting fast. They’re a threat to everybody.”
Bidez agrees: “It used to be I had no competition at all. I’ve been getting more lately.”
Both riders have strong family support for their travels and competitions. If one were to walk into the Bidez house, one would have to walk down a hallway lined with trophies and awards for her and her brother, Dylan, a 12-year-old who was the first to introduce snowboarding to his sister.
The parents are the first to admit the dangers that exist. Patty Bidez, Clair’s mother, said she’d rather have her kids doing tricks on snowboards than playing football. Her husband, Earle, agrees. Clair has broken her arm and two years ago, MacCutcheon suffered a concussion.
“The quality of the training is why we let them do this,” Earle said. “They’ve worked very hard at it. They worked hard at school so they can snowboard. The people they associate with are a good group of kids and adults. They learn a lot from it, to win and lose with grace.”
Pamela MacCutcheon calls the group a family. “After the races,” she said, “we hang out together. It really is more of a family because we all get along and we all support each other.”
Just this summer, MacCutcheon went to Mount Hood in Oregon to train with Olympic bronze medalist Chris Klug. Since then, Klug’s offered to train with Steve whenever he’s at Copper Mountain. By hanging out with the pros, MacCutcheon’s grasped what it takes to make a living at doing what he loves.
“I’ve learned what kind of dedication he puts into his sport,” MacCutcheon said. “While everyone was watching television, I was staying fit this summer.”
Bidez has spent the last few weekends with Team Summit and coaches Jim Smith, Derek Runes and Chuck Bolden, in a gymnastics arena in Colorado Springs learning tricks. Using the trampoline, Bidez has finally figured out the McTwist, a pesky trick she struggled with last season.
This year, however, will be different.
“I kept trying the McTwist last season because I couldn’t do it. I couldn’t understand exactly what it is,” she said. “Now that I know, I’ve got it.”
More tricks are sure to come.
“Last season, I was able to get my 540 in the halfpipe,” Bidez said. “I dont’ know if I can get the 720 this year, but it’d be cool.”
Both local athletes have plenty of sponsors, too. MacCutcheon uses Smith goggles, while Bidez, who also is on the Battle Moutain dance team, has Burton, The Other Side Snowboard Shop in Beaver Creek, Bolle, Wigwam and Boeri. Both are modest, but understand how many young athletes have the same goals in mind. While MacCutcheon doesn’t flinch when he mentions the Olympics, he’s humble when he talks about guys like Klug.
Bidez, too, knows the “what you’ve done for me lately’ mindset prevails in all sports.
“Right now, it’s just one step at a time,” she said.
Ryan Slabaugh is a sports writer for the Vail Daily. Contact him at (970) 949-0555 ext. 608 or at email@example.com.