CARBONDALE – For three years they have been riding the slopes of Snowmass and Buttermilk – speeding down the mountain in slaloms, turning tricks on the halfpipe and slopestyle and racing in boardercross.But they don’t ride as individuals, they ride as members of the Colorado Rocky Mountain School snowboarding team. “It is just so fun. It is a great group of kids,” senior rider Katie Brimm said. “It is fun because they make you push yourself, but it isn’t too competitive. There is such a huge variety in the level of abilities that there is no pressure.”While snowboarding is an individual sport, CRMS members think riding for a team makes them better competitors.”Over just going out and doing it alone, it gives you a lot of advantages,” said senior Mitchell Hoke.”We can learn a lot from each other,” senior Kyle Lewis added.From December through February, the 13 riders of the CRMS squad compete in giant slalom, slalom, slopestyle, halfpipe and boardercross at regional competitions at Snowmass and Buttermilk mountains, with the goal of earning a United States of America Snowboard Association (USASA) nationals bid.A rider qualifies for nationals by finishing first or second in any given discipline in their age group at a regional competition, or by accumulating enough points by racing in events throughout the season to finish first or second overall, or by being selected as a wild card.Wild cards are prevalent in this region, due to the large number of very talented snowboarders, according to head coach Michael Hayes. “We are in one of the toughest, if not the toughest, regions in the country because there is so much competition out here,” Hayes said. “We have some incredible riders, but the competition is tough.”
Brimm, a three-year vet on the team, qualified for USASA nationals last year at Copper Mountain and took seventh in the boardercross, an event similar to motocross, but on snow. Having only competed in boardercross a few times before nationals, Brimm thinks she might stick to her favorite event of slopestyle in the future.”It was really scary,” Brimm said. “It’s nuts. People crash, I fell a few times. It is an event where people get carried away in ambulances.”Slopestyle is the most popular event and draws the largest numbers to its competitions. It is also the favorite discipline of the majority of CRMS riders.”I feel like you can do a lot more with slopestyle. Halfpipe is just halfpipe air, boardercross is just racing, but with slopestyle, you can hit jumps and rails,” Lewis said. “There is an infinite variety of things you can do. It gives you more means to express yourself snowboarding.” While all the athletes ride with the dream of being able to compete at nationals, it isn’t Hayes’ top priority.”The number one goal is to keep them healthy and we actually don’t have as many injuries as you would think. It is rare for us to see injuries because our other philosophy is progression,” Hayes said. “You see kids in a park doing tricks that they are not really ready for and that is how they get hurt. We want to have them go through a slow progression and do things when they are ready.”The CRMS riders have been training since the end of October to get ready for the regional competitions. The team practices on the slopes Tuesdays and Thursdays and on weekends when they are not competing. They may not be on the mountain the rest of the week, but it doesn’t mean they aren’t practicing. “One day a week we have dry-land training, which is a combination of strength training and aerobic fitness,” Hayes said. “We also have rails on campus that we practice on one day a week.”The small rail park has been completely built by Hayes and CRMS team members. The rails were even constructed by CRMS students in shop class.”(The rail practice park) is really cool,” Hoke said. “I live like 200 yards from here and it is so cool to be able to come here to practice.”
During training, Hayes coaches all aspects of snowboard competition and promotes participating in all five events.”We are encouraging them more and more to be well-rounded riders and to do as many events as they can,” Hayes said. “They all have stuff they specialize in and they all like slopestyle, but at their level, it makes them better snowboarders if they are more well-rounded.”CRMS will ride in the first of its season’s 12 competitions Sunday in slopestyle at Snowmass. Lewis said they are ready to jump into the season and is excited their first competition is slopestyle.”You just try to throw down your best trick and stick it,” Lewis said.”And try not to get hurt,” first-year team member Dustin Belcher said with a smile.Snowboarding Dictionary.Members of the Colorado Rocky Mountain School are also members of the United States of America Snowboard Association. They compete in five different disciplines from the middle of December to late February. Here are explanations of each discipline:Slalom
A race that combines downhill speed with technical ability. The course is marked with gates that are not in a straight line, so the skier has to make a series of quick turns while racing down the slope. Each racer makes two runs. The fastest total time determines the winner. Giant slalomA type of race similar to the slalom, but with fewer and wider turns. Each racer makes two runs. The fastest cumulative time determines the winner.BoardercrossLike their motorcycle counterparts in motocross, Boardercross participants race through turns and obstacles and jumps in heats of 4-6 riders.HalfpipeBuilt with snow, a halfpipe is a vertical U-shaped structure used in freestyle snowboarding. Like a skateboarding halfpipe, riders use the opposing walls to get air and perform tricks as they travel down the fall line of the slope.SlopestyleA freestyle event in which the participant is judged on tricks performed while riding over a series of assorted jumps.Source: http://www.glossarist.com
Support Local Journalism
Support Local Journalism
Each donation will be used exclusively for the development and creation of increased news coverage.
If you don't follow the rules, your comment may be deleted.
User Legend: Moderator Trusted User
If you are visiting the Roaring Fork Valley this week, why not give fly-fishing a try? You’ve probably heard that there are a few challenges out there in regards to water temperatures downvalley on the…