South Shore knows how to cross up the opposition
Nobody on the South Shore is cross that the snowboard cross event seems to belong to riders from the region.
The dominance of the USASA South Tahoe series in the last three USASA National Championships of Snowboarding – the last two of which came after the South Shore’s grassroots competition series split off from the series on the North Shore – overshadows how well the South Shore has done in snowboard cross. The region’s riders did win 48 medals – 25 gold, seven silver and 16 bronze – at nationals, March 29-April 2 at Waterville Valley, N.H. That seven of those golds were in snowboard cross reveals how much opportunity there is to compete in the event on the South Shore.
“The opportunity to compete is probably much greater than other areas,” said Heavenly Ski Foundation snowboard coach Ed McClain. “Also, you can see it, we had a lot of those aggressive people out there.
“A lot of places tend to specialize, too,” McClain said. “We tend to train in everything.”
Jamie Anderson (girls age seven and younger); Dan Sheehan (men 18-22) Christy McIntyre (women 18-22); Erin Sibley, (women 16-17); Elena Hight (girls 10-11); Brady Gunsch (men 23-35); and Aimi Xistras (women 23-35) all brought home gold medals in snowboard cross, which is the same basic format as motocross or BMX, only on snowboards.
Sheehan, who won the title in the men’s jams division, echoed McClain’s statement.
“Honestly, I really don’t practice,” said Sheehan, who works at his sponsor resort, Kirkwood. “I just ride pretty much seven days a week. Having raced motocross for 12 years and having a dad who’s been racing for 30, I guess competition is in my blood. I just try not to think about it too much, and when it comes to race time, I try and focus, maybe meditate a little.
“I was hoping to win the boardercross because that’s my specialty and place in the top five overall,” he said. “I wasn’t sure how I would do in the slaloms because the athletes were all speed-suit, hard-boot kids and I was just in my normal setup.”
Also, Stacie Anderson and Coral Warren brought home a silver, and a fourth-place finish, respectively, in the discipline, and Harrison Kramer won a bronze.
“I think it has to do with all-mountain riding, being able to ride a variety of aspects of snowboarding,” said Gunsch, who not only won the senior men’s event, but helped train the Anderson sisters and Warren for the event. In fact, Gunsch, who won the senior men’s championships in overall freestyle (slopestyle and halfpipe) overall Alpine (slalom and giant slalom), overall combined (Alpine and freestyle) and triple combined (Alpine, freestyle and snowboard cross), said Joanie Anderson’s snowboard cross win made his year.
In fact, Gunsch’s places on the overall podium were somewhat typical of the South Shore performances in New Hampshire, where several series riders used success in snowboard cross to help vault them to the vaunted triple overall titles.
The success in the event, though, is little surprise. After the USASA South Tahoe series schedule – a calendar that featured two sanctioned snowboard cross events in the month of February – ended, both Heavenly and Sierra added two more of the events, and entered several competitors from each team.
“I just see that there’s more and more kids getting into it,” Gunsch said.
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