Vail Valley riders make U.S. Snowboard Team
VAIL – Three Vail Valley snowboarders have been named to the U.S. Snowboarding Team, it was announced Tuesday.
Clair Bidez, 22, of Minturn will compete on the women’s halfpipe pro team alongside Olympic stars Gretchen Bleiler and Kelly Clark.
Clair’s brother, Dylan, 19, was named to the U.S. Snowboarding Rookie Team along with fellow Eagle County local Broc Waring, 17, of Edwards.
“There are again great athletes in our programs. The depth and amount of talent is incredible and we’re looking forward to getting competitions started,” U.S. Snowboarding Program Director Jeremy Forster said. “2006 was a great Olympic season and hopefully we can have another great performance in 2010.”
Patty Bidez said her children are both aiming to make the Olympic team. Clair and Dylan, both Battle Mountain High School graduates, are currently training in New Zealand and will be returning to Eagle County on Sunday.
Clair Bidez fractured her heel last season in December and was unable to compete for the rest of the year, but she’s back at full strength now. This will be her fifth year on the women’s halfpipe team.
This will be Dylan Bidez’s fourth year on the rookie team. Dylan was second at World Junior Championships and picked up a Grand Prix podium last season, finishing third.
This will be Waring’s third year on the team. Ben Boyd, who coached Waring for years with Ski and Snowboard Club Vail, said Waring is probably one of the top 10 or 15 riders in the country.
“He’s improving all the time,” Boyd said.
The Olympic field is pretty wide open this year, and Waring has a chance at making it, Boyd said.
“To be honest with you, you never know,” Boyd said. “If he keep progressing, he has a good shot.”
Olympic qualification for halfpipe begins Dec. 11 at the U.S. Snowboarding Grand Prix, which will host five competitions across three tour stops before the games.
For the 2010 U.S. Snowboarding Rookie Team, nine of the rookies are returning from 2009.
U.S. Snowboarding Program Director Jeremy Forster said he’s stoked to see what the athletes have in store this year.
“It was great to watch the progression of this group last year, and it continues to include the most talented young halfpipe riders in the U.S.,” Forster said. “We are so fortunate to have Bud Keene leading the rookie program. The program is such a key piece of our future success in halfpipe.”
Keene, who coached U.S. Snowboarding’s halfpipe athletes from 2002-2006 as well as the 2006 Olympic team, will lead the rookies for the second straight season.
“We sat a down a year ago and said we want a rookie team athlete to make the Olympic team. That may or may not happen and obviously the odds are in the favor of the older more experienced riders and that’s as it should be,” Keene said.
“But, to set a goal like that pulls us forward in ability and drive and inspiration. If they come up short of the Olympic team and don’t make it there will be no regrets and they will have gotten way better in the process of just trying. So, yeah we’re gunning for it for sure. Every rookie wants to make the Olympic team. I mean, why not?”
The rookies already kicked their season off in August with a camp and two competitions in New Zealand.
The U.S. Ski and Snowboard Association contributed to this report.