U.S. Snowboard Team grabs local talent | TahoeDailyTribune.com

U.S. Snowboard Team grabs local talent

Steve Yingling

You knew it wouldn’t last forever – a U.S. Snowboard Team without any talent from the South Shore.

On Wednesday, Joanie Anderson of Tahoe Paradise and Elena Hight of Zephyr Cove were selected to the B team for the 2004-05 season.

“It’s a great opportunity,” said 17-year-old boardercross racer Anderson. “That the Olympics are only two years off I think is a good time to become part of the team, so I can really push for them.”

Hight was part of the U.S. junior team a year ago, but the promotion gives the 14-year-old halfpipe rider a chance to compete against the world’s best.

“I’ll be going to a couple of World Cups,” Hight said. “I’m really excited because the World Cups will allow me to visit new places.”

Their families will also benefit from their elite team status.

“This will fill in the blanks … sponsors previously gave me travel money,” said Anderson, who will turn 18 on Tuesday.

Hight said junior team members aren’t provided with funding but now her transportation and lodging costs will be covered. Athletes are expected to pay for their own food consumption.

At 14, Hight is the youngest female selected to the team – 13-year-old Luke Mitrani of Stratton, Vt., is on the male squad.

“I’m kind of the baby of the team, but they help me a lot and I’m super excited that they decided to put me on the team at such a young age,” Hight said. “It’s just awesome to ride with everybody that is older and knows everything about competing already.”

Over the past decade, the two rising teen-age snowboarders developed their skills at local mountain resorts – Sierra at Tahoe and Heavenly Mountain Resort – and showcased their talent in the South Shore Snowboard Series and United States of America Snowboard Association.

In recent years, Anderson and Hight have made big splashes in the Winter X Games, U.S. National Championships and Grand Prix series. Anderson was sixth in boardercross at last year’s X Games and won a gold medal in the World Junior Championships. Hight was the top American and sixth overall at the latter event.

“Our goal has always been to put American riders on the Olympic podium,” said U.S. Snowboarding Program Director Jeremy Forster. “As we move towards Torino in 2006, I believe we are on track to achieving that goal.”

Hight, who recently returned from a summer camp at Mount Hood, Ore., won’t have long to prepare for her first World Cup. The team leaves for Chile in August, with the first halfpipe scheduled in September. Anderson, on the other hand, will wait for the winter snowpack.

Despite their different specialties, their paths will cross throughout the season.

“I’m stoked that Joanie got on the boardercross team. We won’t train with the boardercross racers, so I won’t see her as much as I’d like to, but hopefully I’ll see her at some races and we’ll get to hang out,” Hight said.

Among the snowboard stars named to the team on Wednesday were Winter X halfpipe winners Steve Fisher and Hannah Teter and X Games boardercross champ Lindsey Jacobellis, who also rides halfpipe.

For a complete list of team members, see Scoreboard on B3.

– USSA contributed to this story.

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