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Duty, Werner switch up stances at home USASA races

Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club snowboarder Johnny Duty competes in giant slalom at a USASA event at Howelsen Hill Ski Area on Saturday, Feb. 29.
Shelby Reardon

STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — As the only competitors in the men’s open category at the USASA event on Saturday, Feb. 29, Steamboat Springs snowboarders Johnny Duty and Jacy Werner decided to have some fun in the giant slalom race. 

On their first run, rather than hitting every other gate on their heels, the pair pulled a 180 in between gates to always pass it on their toe side. On the second run, they both rode switch, with their less dominant foot forward for a truly awkward experience.

“It’s just us two in the age group, so we thought, why not do a little toe-to-toe and switch race?,” said Duty.

“We’ve been competing pretty hard for the past month or two,” added Werner. “With just us two, instead of like 50 kids in it, we just decided to have some fun.”

Werner posted a time of 44.22 and 43 seconds in his two runs, but Duty was quicker down the hill, crossing the line in 39.77 and 41.44 seconds for the giant slalom win. 

“I’m a little disappointed that Johnny beat me, to be honest” said Werner. “I didn’t have my switch game ready today.”

Duty has been competing in the open men’s classification this winter, picking up multiple third-place finishes, battling for a spot at the nationals event. Werner has mostly been competing on the NorAm circuit in both parallel Alpine races, as well as snowboard cross.

In between competitions, he’s been working to get into West Point Military Academy, taking time to go to an interview in Grand Junction a few weeks ago.

“My grandpa was in the Korean War, so originally I got the idea through him,” said Werner. “And I have a lot of family friends that go to the Naval Academy and West Point. I would really like to join them.”

In slalom, the pair decided to go back to actual racing boards and take the event seriously. Werner went first, ripping down the course in 52 seconds. Duty was nearly four seconds faster, crossing the line in 48.38 seconds.

If Werner wanted to win slalom, he would have to make up some serious time in round two or hope for a blunder by Duty.

As the last two competitors of the day, all eyes pointed to the face of Howelsen to watch Werner compete. Werner missed a gate, according to the announcer, about a third of the way down, on a portion of the course difficult for spectators to see. Even if he hadn’t missed that one, Werner skidded out, missing another gate. He made his way to the finish on the freshly groomed snow next to the course. 

Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club athlete and NorAm racer Jacy Werner zips through the slalom course.
Shelby Reardon

Duty just had to complete his run for the win. Somehow, the 17-year-old went even faster, beating his previous time by 0.01 seconds for the slalom victory and the title as the fastest man on the course.

Lexi Burris was the fastest woman on Saturday, winning giant slalom with a time of 1:09.3, and slalom with a time of 1:52.56.

The Wisconsin native is a sophomore at the University of Colorado Colorado Springs. She typically competes on the NorAm circuit and qualified for Junior Worlds last weekend. She sits in seventh among parallel slalom snowboarding women. Despite having her ticket to Junior Worlds in Austria next month, she still made the trek to Steamboat.

“It’s a good practice environment for me,” she said. “Instead of just training, you have to be in that competition environment to help you get that mindset even though there’s just two of us in our age group. It’s good practice.”

University of Colorado Colorado Springs sophomore and NorAm competitor Lexie Burris races slalom at a USASA event.
Shelby Reardon

To reach Shelby Reardon, call 970-871-4253, email sreardon@SteamboatPilot.com or follow her on Twitter @ByShelbyReardon.


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