Local riders shine at Snowboard Nationals
Special to the Sky-Hi News
The United States Ski and Snowboard Association (USASA) held their National Snowboard Championships April 3-7 at Copper Mountain, and there were a few local riders who really did well this season.
Two of them are 8th graders, Max Williams and Lydia Silber. Silber is quite used to the view from the podium. She has won many medals, including 2016 USASA gold medals in Halfpipe and Slopestyle for her age group a year ago, but this year, it wasn’t quite as easy. She was at the bottom of her age group (14 in the 14-15 Junior Women category).
But her biggest challenger was not one of the 30 or so girls from around the country shooting for that same prize. It was Mother Nature, who threw a heavy spring snowstorm into all the competitors’ paths to the podium on Tuesday, April 5th.
It was “puking” snow with 25 MPH sustained winds during Silber’s Slopestyle competition, and, at times, the judges could even see the competitors! “It was a gnarly blizzard,” she explained. “From the top, we couldn’t even see the first jump. In the first run, I had trouble with my speed, and couldn’t pull the tricks I had planned.” (In Halfpipe and Slopestyle competitions, speed mostly determines how many spins a rider can attempt and the height of those tricks.) “On the second run, even with special racing wax (nicknamed ‘Rocket Fuel’), I couldn’t do the super technical run I had planned. I had to play it safe.”
For Silber, “playing it safe” meant only scoring a 90.33, while her nearest competitor, Ashley Parisi from Truckee, California, scored 75.5. She was able to take the gold easily.
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In the halfpipe, the weather was more kind. “The pipe was beautiful – a little slushy and good for holding an edge.” She took the gold easily with a run that scored her a 95. Although she won the Rail Jam for her age group last year, she decided to focus on the park and pipe events this year.
Silber is coached by Mike Miller, Mike Branson, and Rich Nelson, and her main sponsor is Flow Snowboards. They help her by paying for some of her snowboard contests and travelling expenses. They also give her gear when things break.
Besides Flow, she is also sponsored by SMITH Optics, Nikita Outerwear, Winter Park Resort, and her parents. She was originally inspired by her older brother, Freddy, and she continues to ride with the boys. “They tell me, ‘Just do it, Lydia, you got it.’” And she does the new trick before she can think about it and get intimidated.
This small-sized dynamo started competing at the age of 9, and is dedicated to her snowboard training and progression, but she is also serious about school. She maintains a 3.8 GPA despite taking off time to travel to events. Those absences from class will only become more frequent as she competes in the Rev Tour, the next step up from USASA. Competitors from the Rev Tour that do well can be invited to compete in the Dew Tours and X Games … and hopefully one day, the Olympics.
Freddy Silber 7th in Junior Men
Freddy Silber, Lydia’s older brother and original inspiration to snowboard, also did well in his age group – 16-17 Junior Men. This Middle Park High School Junior scored a 67.33 to earn a 7th place finish among a field of 57. Freddy is sponsored by Flow Snowboards, @Snow Provides, Winter Park Resort, and Powder Tools.
Max Williams Soars to New Heights
Williams is an 8th grader who has enjoyed a surge in his snowboard results in the past two years. His halfpipe competition was not what he would have wished for – a whiteout blizzard blowing sideways with limited visibility.
“The snow was fast in practice,” Williams explained, “but it started snowing really hard when the first run got underway, and it got really slow. Nobody could boost out of the pipe (soar above the lip of the halfpipe). I had to change my run completely. On the second run, the sun came out and I was able to boost eight feet out, but I ‘decked,’ (landed on the deck instead of in the pipe) and broke my board.”
But his results from the first run (81) were enough to land him 8th place in the largest competitor group of the Nationals – almost 200 competitors. Williams is sponsored by K2 Snowboards, Family Shred, Winter Park Resort and the Winter Park Pub.
In slopestyle, the weather was much improved, and he took 10th place with a score of 71.33, earned by cleanly landing a cab 9, a back 9, and a front 7 off the toes.
“I’ve been pushing myself,” Williams admitted. His hard worked has paid off, as he was invited to compete in the Rev Tour last year. “I’m not sure if I am bummed or relieved that my season is over. I’m glad that the pressure is off, but I’d like to keep it going, too.”
Part of Williams’ success has been a huge growth spurt in the past two years, gaining a foot and a half in height and the speed that comes with that extra weight. His goals are to qualify for the Grand Prix Tour and eventually the X Games and Winter Olympics … but first comes the hard work. He will spend the summer doing dryland training with his Winter Park Comp Center coaches, Mike Miller and Mike Branson.
For more information on USASA ski and snowboard competitions near you, visit usasa.org. (The skier version of the Nationals is happening this week).
Cindy Kleh was the USASA National Overall Champion for several consecutive seasons. She is now retired from competition.
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