North Lake Tahoe Bonanza: With the turn of the new year, it’s time for the Sierra Nevada College snowboard team to begin working toward another United States Collegiate Ski and Snowboard Association (USCSA) National Championship, which the men’s team has won the past two years in a row.
The season begins today at Squaw Valley USA with the kickoff event for the Northern California Collegiate Snowsports Conference. According to a press release from SNC, this will be the first year the conference is sponsoring snowboarding events, and SNC riders are ready for competition from some of the northern California colleges.
A majority of these teams are forming for the first time this season; the SNC team is hoping there will be some good riders on the snow, the release reads.
The SNC team also will head to Copper Mountain in January for the Chevy Revolution Tour, where it will compete in boardercross, halfpipe and slopestyle events. These events will determine spots on the U.S. Junior World Cup race team and the World University Games team.
Several of the SNC riders are hoping to qualify for these events, which take place in spring 2008 in Russia and in January 2009 in China, respectively.
Ultimately the team’s goal is to win at Nationals, but SNC snowboard coach Tony Carlstrom wants to put this team on the map as the premier college snowboard team among colleges, as well as on the International Ski Federation (FIS) circuit.
"Having a diverse and competitive schedule allows us to attract solid young riders with good credentials on the USASA and FIS circuit before they come to the college," Carlstrom said.
The college’s snowboard team continues to grow each year, attracting riders from all over the country; this season’s team even has an international flavor. The team is also more diverse in terms of the riding capabilities, as the group has a better balance between racers and freestyle riders.
Initially the team was built around racing, but as the sport progresses, it is starting to lean more toward freestyle events (halfpipe and slopestyle) and boardercross. As a consequence, Carlstrom began looking for more riders at the end of last season who could push the limits of freestyle snowboarding.
The team also benefited last year by spending more time in the snow parks, where members focused on all facets of riding – including jumps and tricks – rather than just on speed and making turns.
"We won the National Championship last March, but we had to fight it out with a University of Colorado team that was more focused on freestyle riding," Carlstrom said. "This year, we will be able to keep up with their riders in the park."
The team plans to train at Alpine Meadows and Diamond Peak ski resorts during the season to take advantage of the snow parks and the diversity of the terrain at those mountains.
The men’s team has several returning members from last year. The race squad is led by sophomore Spencer Cordovano (Haley, Idaho), junior Seth Gunsauls (Red Bluff, Calif.), junior Rob McNamara (Ashland, Ore.), sophomore Lance Lynch (Placerville, Calif.) and freshman Spencer Reeves (Crested Butte, Colo.).
This team should be able to dominate boardercross at the college level, as well as get some good finishes on the FIS circuit, Carlstrom said. The group is rounded out with the following freestyle riders: Junior Michel Alster (Poland), sophomore Tarjei Sporastoyl (Norway) and freshman Austen Butler (Haley, Idaho).
The women’s team is busy rebuilding with new and proven talent. Freshman Maya Hoffman (Reno) and sophomore Nora Johanessen (Norway) promise to be a strong combination, with each possessing both the ability to ride fast and to complete solid tricks in the park, Carlstrom said.
"These kids can not only ride fast, but (they) also push their limits in the air," he said. "Some of them have already proven they can compete with the best riders on the FIS circuit. It will be exciting to be at the Revolution Tour and Nationals with this group."