Local snowboarders clean up at nationals
SNOWBOARD CLUB VAIL ATHLETES AT NATIONALS
Top 10 finishers
Ollie Martin, age 8: 3rd slopestyle; 7th halfpipe; 5th boarder cross
Kade Martin, age 11: 2nd boarder cross; 9th slopestyle
Cooper Shonk, age 11: 5th halfpipe
Skogan Wachter, age 7: 1st boarder cross; 4th halfpipe
Montana Braden, age 16: 3rd giant slalom
Kaite Hancock, age 17: 3rd boarder cross; 3rd slalom
Fynn Bullock-Womble, age 12: 2nd halfpipe; 8th slopestyle
Eazy Globel, age 13: 2nd Rail Jam
Wyatt Fisher, age 9: 8th halfpipe
EAGLE COUNTY — Edwards resident Ryan Wachendorfer finished atop the field at the snowboarding national championships and a long list of locals were behind him in various events.
Copper Mountain played host to the final USASA event of the year during the past week and Snowboard Club Vail showed how comfortable they were at the nearby resort with regular podium appearances across a variety of ages and disciplines throughout the contest.
Coach Casey Lehmicke said they were proud to see athletes on podiums in almost all areas — halfpipe, slopestyle, snowboard cross and the racing events.
“Pretty much every American big competition snowboarder started with USASA, so their national championships is where we want to do well, for sure,” said Lehmicke. “In USASA you can start getting into competitions at 5 or 6 years old and it’s pretty much everywhere in the country where there are resorts.”
With a strong program for the younger ages, called the Mini Shred Program, Ski & Snowboard Club Vail coaches say their hope is to provide young athletes the means to excel.
Among the local standouts in the age division competitions were Eazy Globel, 13, who took second in the Rail Jam; Fynn Bullock-Womble, 12, who took second in halfpipe; Kade Martin, 11, who took second in snowboard cross and 7-year-old Skogan Wachter, who won snowboard cross.
Lehmicke said the Mini Shred program has been part of a philosophy embraced by new program director Chris Laske, where kids at young ages are taught, simply, how much fun snowboarding can be.
Lehmicke said it’s also been a pleasure watching longtime Snowboard Club Vail coach Brady McNeill help older kids then take their skills to the next level.
“Brady has coached a lot of kids to the national team over the years,” Lehmicke said.
Among those kids was Wachendorfer, who came through the Snowboard Club Vail program and has been a member of the U.S. Snowboarding Rookie Team for the last three seasons. Wachendorfer says the U.S. Team experience has helped him in many ways.
“It extends much further than the coaching on the hill,” he said. “They help with creating a brand for yourself and working with companies, they help with school — they help with my tuition at Westminster which is super helpful — there’s tons of benefits more than just the coaching side that people see on the hill. It extends much further.”
A TITLE AND A PAYDAY
Wachendorfer said he decided to take part in USASA Nationals to defend his title there, as he also won it last year. But the payday didn’t hurt, either.
“I was home anyways, right up the road,” he said. “It was $1,000, so … may as well do it. Being in the competition mindset is always good.”
It turned out to be a little more nerve racking than Wachendorfer had anticipated, as he was in third after the first run of finals.
“It came down to my very last run,” he said. “I had to work for it.”
Wachendorfer’s winning run contained two tricks with multiple inverts.
“It wasn’t quite the four doubles run that I’ve been doing this season but it was still a heavy run that I had to do to win it,” he said.
Wachendorfer’s four-doubles run got him on the podium next to Shaun White earlier this season and he’s hoping as the next year plays out he will have both a spot on the U.S. Pro Snowboarding Team and a few great performances during the Olympic qualifiers. He said seeing all his friends and the large contingent of Eagle County locals at Nationals was great to see.
Again the USASA National Champion, he credits the club and the national team for getting him there.
“There’s so many routes and avenues you can take to be a better snowboarder in all areas,” he said. “It takes more than just being a good pipe rider to be a good snowboarder.”
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