Steamboat skiers, boarders set for Junior Worlds
Athletes ready in New Zealand
Steamboat Springs — Even in a winter-sports-crazy town like Steamboat Springs, snow is on the back burner right now, but a handful of skiers and snowboarders from Ski Town USA will have to get in a winter frame of mind this month as they compete in the 2010 FIS Freestyle and Snowboard Junior World Championships in New Zealand.
The events, open to riders ages 13 to 19, kick off next week and run through the end of the month.
“New Zealand is the epicenter of the snowboarding world right now,” Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club coach Jon Casson said as he prepared to make the trip to the other side of the world.
Casson will serve as the head coach of the U.S. boardercross team and will be joined on the south Pacific island by nearly a dozen other competitors with local ties.
He said there has long been pressure to schedule the massive event in New Zealand, and the hype around last winter’s Olympics helped make 2010 the right year for the leap.
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That doesn’t mean it’s an easy transition for athletes from Steamboat or any other northern hemisphere resort.
“Some of the kids have been able to train on Mount Hood in Oregon, but it’s definitely different this year,” Casson said. “We’ll be a little rusty, not having ridden consistently in the last four months.”
He tried to keep his boardercross athletes in shape by organizing workout regimens.
The timing isn’t all bad, however.
“Having it in August takes the rush out of it,” he said. “They were able to get qualified in March, then work on their development ever since. Hopefully it all evens out. Most of the other nations will be in the same boat.”
Headlining Steamboat’s entries in the events will be Maddy Schaffrick, one of the country’s top teenage halfpipe competitors.
It will be her first trip to the Junior Worlds competition, but it could be the start of a great season.
“She has already established herself as one of the top young riders in the world,” Casson said. “This event is pretty important for everyone. The first events for boardercross and halfpipe come rolling right up in December. To get a good competition now on the snow can do a lot as a confidence boost. They can really get going into the season well.”
Paul Brichta also will compete in the halfpipe. Roger Carver and Jenna Feldman will ride boadercross, Cassie Wagar, Hunter Murphy, Mack Joyce and Megan Graham will compete in the Alpine snowboarding giant slalom and slalom races.
Penn Lukens, meanwhile, will compete in ski cross.
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