Crossing the line |

Crossing the line

Post Independent/Kara K. Pearson

Ego was not the determining factor for Cleeve Johnson to compete in the Men’s Open Class Boardercross division at the 2006 U.S.A. Snowboard Association’s National Championship.Instead, it was the field of racers at the event which made up the Yampah Mountain High School senior’s mind.”I’ve been riding against those riders all year,” said Johnson, who has been competing in the USASA Aspen/Snowmass Snowboarding Regional Series all winter.Pitted against 43 competitors, Johnson made the right choice.

At the end of the weekend-long competition at Northstar in Tahoe, Calif., in late March, Johnson took second place. The accomplishment of the Basalt resident glows brighter, considering event overall winner – Jonathan Cheever – finished 16th in the same division at the 2006 Winter X Games at Buttermilk Mountain in Aspen. Johnson, 18, said appearing in a future X Games is among his goals. But he’s happy with his latest feat.The second-place award he earned last month was the highest finish Johnson has had in five years of qualifying for nationals at other age levels.

Prior to the 2006 event, Johnson’s highest finish was third in 2001 – as a 13-year-old.While a fast run is important in Boardercross – an event that debuted in the Olympics this year and is also known as Snowboarder X – the key to doing well at the national level is to “race smart,” Johnson said.”Depending on how many people there are, there’s usually four to five heats. The top three advance out of those heats,” he said. “So you kind of have to hold back. It’s more mental because you don’t see the good racers until toward the end.”Johnson advanced to the event finals after clocking the second-fastest run in the time trials.

“Making it to finals was my main goal,” he said. “So, it was good for me.”Unlike most of the division’s racers, who have gobs of sponsors for support, Johnson’s funded by his parents – Cleeve Johnson Sr. and his mother, Annika Scholten.Johnson’s father is a U.S. Citizen. Scholten was born in Holland, and has retained her citizenship to that country, which in turn gives Johnson a greater chance to compete at the Olympic level.”I have dual citizenship right now,” he said. “That’s something that I’m starting to look into.” To further advance his career Johnson plans to enter events in Europe and South America this summer.

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