Caitlin Rapson: From broken bones to the podium in a week

Ryan Slabaugh

Her confidence was returning after the previous season, when she broke her collarbone two days before nationals. The life-long Vail resident couldn’t help but feel unlucky and, this year, promised to stay on top of her board.

Then, a week before Christmas, Rapson was in a car accident and broke her collarbone again. On Dec. 23, she was undergoing surgery by Dr. Richard Hawkins to install a titanium rod and eight bolts in her shoulder. Rapson, a junior at Vail Christian High School, couldn’t believe this was happening again.

So she didn’t really let it bother her – one of those easier-said-than-done things. Within a week of the surgery, she was back riding and, by Jan. 4, she found herself standing on top of the podium again, this time in Keystone at a giant slalom, her first race back after the injury. She’s been a part of a first-year snowboard program at Ski and Snowboard Club Vail that has won 78 medals in three months of competition and a racer her coach, Ben Boyd, calls, “so committed and a great rider.” Maybe this is why her coaches at the club voted unanimously to give her the inaugural Courage, Commitment and Character award.

Meet Caitlin:

Name: Caitlin Rapson

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Age: 17

Siblings: Natalie, her 19-year-old sister

Parents: Susan and Howard

Sport: Snowboarding

Home: “I’ve lived my whole life in West Vail.”

High School: Vail Christian

Year: Junior

Job: Pazzo’s

Did you know you were up for the award? “Nope. I found out about it on my way up to Steamboat a couple weeks ago.”

What do you do for fun outside of snowboarding? “I don’t have a lot of time. I play hockey, soccer, downhill mountain bike. I like hanging out with friends.”

What are your goals this season? “This year, I want to do the Crested Butte Extreme Competition, then the Western Regionals, then, I want to get top-10 at nationals in everything I do. Maybe I’ll compete in the Olympics one day, in one event.”

Did you get out to watch the X Games? “Nope. I’ve had my share of pros. They just make me jealous.”

How big are the sponsorships you received this season? “As an amateur, I’ve always been like “I want sponsors, I want sponsors,’ so it’s real nice to get it. I definitely gives you that extra incentive. It makes you concentrate a little more. It gives you some confidence too, and the other team riders give you full support.”

Do you model yourself after one snowboarder? Probably Nathan Park, my coach since forever. I mean, it’d be pretty cool to race with the U.S. National Team with Shaun White, because he’s so young, too.”

Ryan Slabaugh is a sports writer for the Vail Daily. Contact him at (970) 949-0555 ext. 608 or at

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