Getting back to roots of snowboarding |

Getting back to roots of snowboarding

Olympic-level halfpipe snowboarders spend much of the year training for and competing in contests, be it at summer locations in the Southern Hemisphere, preseason sessions in Colorado or on the competitive circuit at events such as the Winter X Games.

By April, however, halfpipe riders turn in their competitor bibs in favor of jackets with powder skirts. This time of year offers the best backcountry snowpack, sunny skies and generally ideal conditions for athletes to hone their skills and refresh their enthusiasm.

Ellery Hollingsworth, who missed qualifying for the Olympic team by one position, overcame her disappointment at a recent photo shoot in British Columbia. “After such an intense contest season, being able to ride (powder) and take my mind off contests made it one of my favorite trips of the season.”

Snowboarding on natural terrain also enables riders to progress in ways they cannot at a resort. Gretchen Bleiler, who won the silver medal in Torino, annually dedicates this part of her season to diversifying her skills. “I’ve found that when I take some time away from the halfpipe and challenge myself on features like cliffs and exposed lines in the backcountry, it only improves my pipe riding because I’m more confident after pushing beyond my comfort zone.”

Even Vancouver bronze medalist Scotty Lago, who endured controversy after an overzealous fan bit his medal at his waistline, found it appealing to leave the media machine behind by spending April in Alaska. “Going to the Olympics was an amazing experience but sometimes a bit stressful, too. It was a breath of fresh air to escape the frenzy and just get back to the roots of snowboarding.”

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Posted on: April 15, 2010