Rifle youngster’s investment in snowboarding pays off | PostIndependent.com

Rifle youngster’s investment in snowboarding pays off

Mike McKibbin
Rifle Correspondent
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado
Submitted photoPaul James Straw Jr., 11, of Rifle, flies over the tire on his snowboard in an event called the Suitcase at Aspen Snowmass on the last weekend of February.

RIFLE, Colorado ” For more than a year, James Paul Straw Jr. worked to raise money to join a snowboarding team in Aspen.

It paid off for the 11-year-old Rifle youngster, who left Friday for Copper Mountain and the United States of America Snowboarding Association National Snowboarding Finals.

But the 5th grader at Rifle Middle School doesn’t want to stop there.

“I want to be in the X Games and the Olympics,” he said.

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Straw made it to the finals ” billed as the largest snowboarding and free ski event on earth ” by compiling points as a member of the Aspen Valley Snowboard and Ski Club. He was one of just four of the club’s 25 members to make it to the finals and is the only team member outside of Glenwood Springs.

“It’s very expensive to buy all the equipment,” his mother, Stephanie Straw, said. “So he raised and sold a pig at the (Garfield County) Fair and he got a scholarship. We’re talking in the thousands of dollars.”

Straw takes the bus from Glenwood Springs to Aspen to train three days a week, then rides the bus back to Rifle. His mother praises the teachers at Rifle Middle School for letting her son miss school every Friday.

But he didn’t fall behind ” Straw is on the school honor roll.

“We were pretty happy for him,” Stephanie Straw said. “This was the first year he’s competed at this level.”

Straw said he wasn’t sure how well he would do at the national finals, but he had already beaten the second-ranked boarder crosser.

His best event is boarder cross, where boarders line up in chutes, the gates are pulled and snowboarders hit turns and jumps on the way down the mountain.

“I like it when you come off the big jumps and you’re in the air for a long time,” Straw said.

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