Race Day morning was clear and calm with relatively warm temperatures. We got to the staging area super early and were able to secure a good spot for tuning and to stash our gear. The Copper Course was in great condition and super fast to start the day. Inspections and practice runs went well. We continued with the ‘Progression’ theme and built up speed from run to run. Ale and I both felt good and were ready to rock time trials.
|Staging Area at the Top of the Copper Course|
|Coach Jb Time Trial - PHOTO VAST:: vastaction.com|
Time trials went well and boosted our confidence. Ale qualified #1 with a time of 55:42. I qualified #2 with a time of 45.70. In watching some of the competitors struggle with the start features and showing visible signs of being physically challenged by the altitude, we both became aware of how valuable our pre-Nationals practice sessions (and overall year-long, off-season and on-season preparation) were. The boards were running really fast and our course strategy was dialed in.
|Ale Time Trial Results|
|Coach Jb Time Trial Results|
Lucky for us, Nick (Langkamp Racing) worked as our Wax Tech and Support Team during the competition. His expertise was put to the test with constantly changing weather (and snow) conditions throughout the day. The temperatures remained somewhat mild, but the skies went from sunny, to partly cloudy, to overcast and sometimes spitting snow pellets all in the same hour. You can see the wide variance in weather we experienced in the pictures and video. One quick note about the highlights video, our cameraman was somewhat amped up due to the energy surrounding the competition and a few of the clips are a bit on the shaky side. Unfortunately there's not a ton of video footage from race day to share.
|Nick Langkamp Working His Wax Magic|
Ale got to compete in 3 Finals Heats (a best of three) and ended up finishing in 2nd place in each race. Though pulling out of the gate before the other riders, she did not negotiate the start section quite as smoothly as the eventual Champion and got passed early. Ale was in hot pursuit down the course and almost caught up to the leader in the first two heats.
|Ale On Course - PHOTO VAST:: vastaction.com|
Winning the Silver Medal was Ale’s best Nationals finish to date and first ever podium of her career. She’s only been racing for 2.5 years and has already been to Nationals three times, finishing 4th in her first two visits. Ale had an awesome year scoring 8 Gold Medals from regional qualifying and a Silver Medal at Nationals.
|Ale Headed Up to the Podium|
|Ale's Official Results|
In my initial heat, I took first place and, following the “Progression” theme, was faster than my time trial effort. Nick had the perfect wax combo on the board and the course was still in great shape, even with our afternoon start times. I got a great pull to start the Finals race and was in the lead by a board length and increased my advantage through the start section. Anson Morgan, eventual 3rd place finisher, was flying at the bottom section in an effort to pass for the win, but couldn’t quite absorb the last double and bobbled. I cleared the double, avoided crashing into Anson, and crossed the finish line first. It was a pretty spectacular finish.
|Crossing the Line First Feels Good! - PHOTO VAST:: vastaction.com|
|K.C.C.O. - Chive Pose After the Finals|
|Coach Jb Official Results|
I also finished the year with 8 local Gold Medals and including Ale’s and Gray’s wins, we had 18 total local Gold Medals and 2 Nationals Podiums for the Team from this Winter’s efforts.
The awards ceremony was a neat experience and we got a ton of pictures. It was cool to be on stage and see the big USASA crowd filling up Copper’s Center Village. After winding down a little at the condo we made our way to the medal celebration dinner at Hacienda Real, the best Mexican Food in all the land.
|Hacienda Real Rules!|
It takes a lot more than an athlete with a snowboard and a coach to make a team successful. We are extremely grateful for all the people who supported our efforts and helped on our journey to Nationals: Nick, Ale’s husband, for video duties and loud cheering - Nick Langkamp for training with us, waxing and strategy commentary - Team Canada for clanging their cowbells for us in NY and at Nationals (and for pictures!) – Dave Calfo created sick board graphics for both of us - Coaching colleagues and friends, K.C. Gandee, Lane Clegg and Tina Gonzales all helped in their own unique way.
Our sponsors also played a big part in our success this season: Purl Wax made our boards run fast every race and in any snow conditions we encountered - Willi’s Ski & Snowboard gave us pro tunes on the boards before Nationals and got me on a program with POC Helmets - Banana Peppers provides stellar nutrition to fuel Ale’s training sessions and helped collect funds to chip away at our travel, training and equipment expenses.
Lastly, big thanks to: Copper Mountain for hosting Nationals – USASA for giving us all an opportunity to compete – the RockyMountain USASA Series for hosting practice, working the races all week and helping build a super-fun course - our local USASA Series', the Appalachian Series and the Western NY Series for supporting local snowboard (and ski) competitions and providing us a pathway to Nationals.
After a few-week break, I moved my business, Peak Performance Personal Training, to Denver. So if you’re a local Denver Mountain Athlete interested in training give me a call!! Off-season gym training is in full swing and our focus is on being even better riders and faster racers next season. For those keeping score, I did keep the mohawk all season long (and still have it). There are some cool plans in store for next race season and plenty of articles and blog posts for the summer and fall so stay tuned!