Serrano: AVSC snowboard team keeps the boards turning in summer | AspenTimes.com

Serrano: AVSC snowboard team keeps the boards turning in summer

Shane Serrano
AVSC snowboarder

For the past month, the top ski and snowboard athletes from around the country have been making their way to Mammoth Mountain in Mammoth Lakes, California, to keep their season going a little longer. The Aspen Valley Snowboard Club made the pilgrimage to Mammoth a few weeks ago to catch the last offered training camp session hosted by the Mammoth Mountain Ski and Snowboard Team.

Headed by AVSC snowboard director Jason Cook, athletes Shayne Sandblom, Malem McDaniel and myself made our way to Mammoth Mountain in the hopes of pushing our skills a little further at the late-spring training park. The on-snow facility consisted of both a large jump airbag and a halfpipe airbag. These airbags give athletes the chance to try new tricks with less consequence before the tricks are attempted on a jump or in the halfpipe. Besides having the chance to learn new tricks, this late-season camp and others like it allow riders to stay in their game.

"With the level that snowboarding has gotten to, I feel that summer training and on-snow training is a necessity at this point," Cook said. "If you spend six to eight months in the summertime not touching a snowboard and then expect to be competitive in the field, it's a bit unrealistic. Summer training, in order to be a competitive snowboarder, is paramount."

Cook explained that with the pairing of a late spring and early fall snowboard trip, athletes are more able to keep progressing. Typically, the AVSC snowboard team travels to Wanaka, New Zealand, for a couple of weeks in August, giving riders more chances to be on snow. With multiple offerings for off-season trips, the AVSC snowboard program wants to give its athletes their best chance at success.

This was the second year Mammoth Mountain offered its spring camp and it seems as if it's all but ready to keep it improving for the future.

"Mammoth's staff was very accommodating during this camp with daily communications and requests for rider feedback," Cook said.

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Although having a less than stellar snow year, Mammoth was still able to offer athletes an excellent facility that was used through the second week of June. Besides the airbags, the park consisted of a large- and medium-sized jump, both accompanied with smaller jump options.

The park also offered a halfpipe, about half the length of a typical superpipe. Although maintaining big snow features in warm early summer weather is not ideal, the Mammoth park crew kept the jumps and halfpipe as consistent as could be. The park crew's biggest effort seemed to be in its battle against encroaching mud slides to the narrow ribbon of snow that brought athletes from the top of the chair lift to the entrance of the park.

Naturally, with Mammoth's top-level spring park, it would be easy for young athletes to push themselves past their ability levels. Add this together with a high-level riding atmosphere and you can get a mix that could potentially give riders a sense of false mastery. For this reason, Cook did not want bigger and better tricks to be the goal.

"The reason we snowboard is because it's fun," Cook said. "We want to improve ourselves through snowboarding and in order to do that we need to set goals. The purpose of this camp was to work toward completing goals from the previous season and creating new goals for the upcoming season."

Shane Serrano has been riding with the AVSC snowboard team for seven years. He competes in halfpipe events in the U.S. and Canada and rides for Salomon Snowboards and Aspen Snowmass. He also works at Radio Boardshop in Aspen.