Schaffrick impresses at Copper Mountain event

Luke Graham

— As wide-eyed as Maddy Schaffrick was on Thursday and Saturday during the first stop on the U.S. Snowboarding Grand Prix Tour in Copper Mountain, it’s hard to argue with the 14-year-old’s results.

Maddy, a Steamboat Springs snowboarder, was the only rider to complete back-to-back 720s during Thursday’s qualifying round and finished fourth in Sunday’s finals.

Two of the three girls in front of her – winner Kelly Clark and third-place finisher Hannah Teter – have won Olympic gold medals.

“Oh my goodness, this is just incredible,” Maddy told the Summit Daily News after Saturday’s competition. “… It’s kind of overwhelming, but amazing. I can’t even believe that I am here right now.”

Maddy’s finish was no surprise to coach Spencer Tamblyn.

“I wouldn’t say I was extremely surprised, I was just extremely happy she landed her second run in the finals,” said Tamblyn, who is the lead Pro Am freestyle coach for the Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club. “She made it into fourth place, and it just really shows the character she has.”

Qualifying consisted of 52 international riders battling for eight spots in the finals. The top three scorers from two heats moved on.

The final two spots went to the highest remaining overall scores, one of which was Maddy’s.

Maddy fell on both of her first runs. After the first fall in the preliminary run, she put together a strong enough run to qualify in fourth.

On Saturday, she struggled in practice, crashed and tweaked her shoulder. Tamblyn said she was upset, but some support from her fans helped her work through it.

“She showed up with this yo-yo and we played around and dorked around,” Tamblyn said. “That helped her manage getting over it. She went out and laid down a beautiful second run. It’s probably the best one I’ve ever seen her do.”

The run included a pair of 900s that barely kept Maddy off the podium.

Maddy now is gearing up for this weekend’s Winter Dew Tour in Breckenridge. Many of the top riders again will be at the event, and Tamblyn said despite the result at the Grand Prix, it’s important Maddy doesn’t get ahead of herself.

“I think really her absolute most important goal is just to go out and have fun,” he said. “Snowboarding for her is the most fun when she’s learning new tricks and competing well. It’s not about the season-long goals. It’s not that she has to win. If she focuses on her skills, the results will come.”

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