Minturn SBX racer Connor Schlegel readies for competition down under | VailDaily.com

Minturn SBX racer Connor Schlegel readies for competition down under

Minturn snowboard cross racer Connor Schlegel, right, on the podium at the Canadian National Championships on March 27, where he finished third.

Ski & Snowboard Club Vail athletes in the top 10 at USASA Nationals SBX competition

Connor Schlegel, 5th place, Open class men
Declan Dent, 7th place, Open Class men
Kobi Dent, 8th place, Open class men
Logan Hill, 2nd place, Junior class men
Brian Rice, 7th place, Youth class men
Ollie Martin, 1st place, Menehune class boys
Taya Dent, 3rd place, Youth class women
Beckett DePriest, 4th place, Grommet class boys
Yuyang Dai(Max), 2nd place, Ruggie class boys

Snowboard cross racer Connor Schlegel, 17, will compete in the Australia-New Zealand Cup this summer after putting together a sting of good results over the last few months.

Schlegel attends Vail Ski & Snowboard Academy and lives in Minturn with his grandparents, who will accompany him to Australia this summer. The Australia-New Zealand Cup is a down under version of the North America Cup, otherwise known as the NorAm, and represents the Continental Cup level of competition, which is one step below the World Cup.

Schlegel had a breakout year, finishing third at the Canadian National Championships and fifth in USASA Nationals at Copper Mountain on March 31.

He will now attempt to employ some of the strategy involved in making it to the big events in snowboard cross, which is where the ANC comes in. It’s a scenario he has discussed with his grandfather many times in recent months.

“We talk about FIS points, standings, where I’m going to need to be to go to Junior Worlds or Youth Olympics next year, next races coming up, recapping runs from previous races – crazy heats – it’s a lot of fun,” he said. “It’s awesome. It’s so much fun to be able to live with my grandparents in Minturn. Most kids are able to see their grandparents maybe on the weekends, or if they live far away they don’t get to see them a ton. But I get to have a close relationship with them, as well as my parents.”

BOLSTERED THE GPA, TOO

After growing up on the front range and showing talent for snowboard cross at a young age, Schlegel decided to try Ski & Snowboard Club Vail for its academic option in the Vail Ski & Snowboard Academy.

Connor’s mother, Jill Schlegel, said it has been the best thing that ever happened to him, academically speaking.

“It’s been phenomenal for him, he’s got like a 4.5 grade average right now, because of the way that the teachers work with his schedule,” Jill Schlegel said.

Connor said after starting off his high school career with a 2.6 grade point average, trying to balance competition with a normal school schedule, he was able to take advantage of the flexibility offered by the ski academy to bolster his grades.

“The school is suited to help kids balance both academics and their athletics, and it’s certainly done the job, the teachers are amazing and the definitely try and make it so that you do have time,” Connor said. “And the scheduling and the work load isn’t too much to manage.”

SHOT AT THE YOUTH OLYMPICS

Connor is now looking to overtake the top junior seed (he’s currently second among juniors in the U.S.) for a spot on the U.S. Youth Olympic team next season. The Youth Olympic Games will take place in Lausanne, Switzerland, bringing together athletes ages 15 to 18 in a competition very similar to the actual Olympics.

Connor Schlegel leads his heat at the USASA National Championships at Copper Mountain on March 31. The 17-year-old from Minturn finished fifth in the Open division.

The athletes that represented the U.S. at the Junior World Championships in snowboard cross this season will be turning 19 before the Youth Olympic Games next year, giving Connor a unique opportunity.

“FIS points will help the U.S. team decide who to take,” Connor said. “So going down to compete in the ANC, hopefully should boost my points to help get me ahead for Youth Olympics.”

While his mother says Connor’s natural talent for snowboarding and help from his grandparents has put her son into the position he’s in, Ski & Snowboard Club Vail snowboard cross coach Phil Reynolds says there’s another factor to consider.

“He has a strong competitive spirit,” Reynolds said. “He wants it. I look forward to our southern season in Australia.”