The journey comes to an end, for now
Last time my words appeared in print, I was typing about Aspen Valley Ski and Snowboard Club’s upcoming trip to USASA Nationals. The events for snowboarders are over and the skiers should just be getting comfortable with the courses right now.
Nationals mark the end of the (training and competing) season for the majority of our athletes. It’s a bittersweet time. For those ready to start mountain biking, enjoying Thursday Night Concerts or hiking around playing disc golf with their friends, Nationals and all the stresses and accomplishments that go along with them are seen as a week of closure to the season. Boards and skis are being put in storage and the next big adventure is being planned.
Some athletes and coaches, myself included, aren’t quite ready to say goodbye to our snowsports toys. We will hang on to what Mother Nature has left us until the very last melt.
Before I go out to enjoy what’s left of the snow, I’d like to talk of some of the successes AVSC had at nationals. Obviously none of it would have been possible without the dedication and commitment from every single one of our team members.
We had quite a few top-10 finishes and podiums, including Isabella Borenstein and Kelanii Scarpaci winning fourth and fifth overall for girls 12-13. Isabella also placed 10th in the rail jam for her age group, all after only snowboarding for two years. MJ Mirano received fifth in rail jam for boys 10-13. Jonny Weiss and Davis Cook received fourth and ninth respectively in slalom for the Menehune Boys (10-11). Jonny also took 10th overall for his age division. Dawson Holmes was narrowly edged out and took ninth in boardercross for Breaker Boys (12-13) in one of the most exciting races of the day. Jake Orzech was incredibly excited for his third-place podium finish in halfpipe, putting together some of his best contest runs of the entire season in the Junior Men division (16-17 years old).
This is a brief summary of just a few of the competitive accomplishments I can recall after an incredibly long yet exciting week of competition. None of it would have been possible without the hard work, perseverance and commitment from these athletes to show up and train hard throughout the season. When they were tired, they got up and practiced. When they were sore, they got out and practiced. When the weather was not ideal, they braved it and practiced. Their determination has paid off this year both in standings and personal triumphs.
Coaching athletes at a competition of this caliber is not easy work, with nerves and fright all playing a big part just before an athlete drops in. Dealing with someone who feels nervous enough to be sick to their stomach just before their run, calming them down, motivating them and watching them execute some of their most difficult tricks and fastest speeds is a memory I will not soon forget, and it makes me proud to know our athletes can learn to overcome their fears and perform for a panel of judges, an audience from across the nation, and their peers.
With an injury keeping Robert Petit from competing himself, we invited him to be a junior coach with us. After all of the events this week, he claims he definitely has new respect for his coaches, having never really realized what all goes into what we do, day in and day out. This is just one more accomplishment in my mind.
I believe the most amazing and inspiring occurrence during the week didn’t even happen in competition. Bobby Sanderson also unfortunately suffered an injury immediately before this week’s competition. This led many of us coaches to believe it would keep him from making an appearance in Copper. We were happily proved wrong as he made the trip to show up just for the introductory parade in order to walk with and encourage his teammates. Who placed what in which events might fade in my mind over time, but his commitment to his team and his desire to wish them luck will not. It was a respectable move and displayed a great amount of maturity. In that (not-so) simple act of appearing, he showed us exactly what AVSC is all about: teamwork, commitment and integrity.
As competition and training comes to an end, I wish to say to all my athletes and fellow coaches, I am proud to have worked with all of you and excited for all of your achievements. I can’t wait to take that trip with all of you again next season.
Josh Ganz is a snowboarding coach for the Aspen Valley Ski and Snowboard Club. He writes about the progress of athletes who live and/or train in Snowmass Village. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.