An avalanche of medals for AVSC rippers at nationals |

An avalanche of medals for AVSC rippers at nationals

Aspen Times writer

Just call it the AVSC National Championships.Local snowboarders from the Aspen Valley Ski and Snowboard Club recently raked in 26 medals at the 2006 USASA National Championships at Northstar at Tahoe in Tahoe – the largest snowboarding competition in the world with more than 1,400 competitors.”It’s the biggest snowboard event in the world,” said Miah Wheeler, AVSC’s snowboard director.AVSC’s contingent of riders – ages 9 through 67 – also showed its versatility by bringing home medals in each of the five disciplines contested at the event, which was held . The five disciplines were slalom and giant slalom, boardercross, halfpipe and slopestyle. Chase Demeulenaere was one such rider, picking up a gold medal in slopestyle in the 10- and 11-year-old division, then adding top 20 finishes in the other four disciplines.Demeulenaere’s results were good for fourth overall in his age division.”This age group has gotten so much more proficient in the past couple of years,” Wheeler said. “To make it to the podium [in slopestyle] you had to stomp everything and hit the biggest kickers and rails and Chase killed it.” Demeulenaere’s teammates in the 10-11 division also fared well.Madison Bailey was seventh in slopestyle and eighth for the freestyle overall ranking (combined halfpipe and slopestyle results). Zach Mobilian finished eighth in the overall rankings and Sam Rice was 19th in the alpine overall rankings (combined slalom and GS results). “These guys are all well-rounded riders – they’re not just strong in one event,” Wheeler said.

The youngest AVSC medal winner was 9-year-old Lindsea Lumpkin. Lumpkin took the bronze in GS and finished sixth in the overall rankings. “She’s got a bright future as a rider,” Wheeler said.Oliver Bacharach was the top team finisher in the 12-13 age division, finishing 15th in the halfpipe for a run featuring a McTwist and a frontside 540 to backside 540 combo. “Oliver had a hot run, but this age group was really tough,” Wheeler said. “Kids are stepping it up doing tricks that were unthinkable for their age just a few years ago.” Teammates Alex Goldsmith finished 25th in halfpipe and Brandon Rohrbaugh was 29th in the alpine overall rankings.Molly Wilson shone for AVSC in the 14-15 age division, taking the bronze in slopestyle and finishing fifth in halfpipe. Both results earned her the bronze in the overall freestyle rankings. “Molly’s the future of women’s snowboarding – she’s got all the talent and just needs to realize it,” Wheeler said. Fellow age division teammate Kim Wilson showed her racing skills by finishing tenth in overall alpine standings, while Natasha Fisburn followed in 23rd place in the overall alpine competition.On the boy’s side, 14-year-old Morris Hogan battled his way through several six-man heats in a crowded boardercross field to finish tenth. The result propelled him to a tenth-place finish in the overall alpine standings.

In the 16-17 age division, Kyla Sobieralski finished sixth in the overall freestyle rankings and fourth in slopestyle. Sobieralski’s slopestyle runs included consecutive 540s.”Kyla’s starting to realize how much talent she has,” Wheeler said. Teammate Ayla Angelo brought her best riding to Tahoe as well, finishing ninth in halfpipe and sixth in boardercross. Jake Kaup led the boys in the 16-17 age division with a 14th-place finish in boardercross.AVSC riders also flexed performed well in the Open Class against several pro riders.Three team athletes made it to the finals in halfpipe and slopestyle. Jordan Karlinski took two silver medals, one for slopestyle and one for overall freestyle. “It was a Grand Prix-level event,” Wheeler said. “They were spinning off of 50-foot booters [jumps] and getting very technical on the rails.”Breton Lujan and Teddy Karlinski both made the cut for Open Class slopestyle finals and finished fifth and sixth, respectively. “It was some of the sickest competition riding I’ve seen,” Wheeler added. “Everyone had to have a [720] and a couple of [540s] and you absolutely had to stomp everything to advance. Breton killed it – his best ever finish on the biggest day. They both showed they belonged at the top and it illustrates just how strong our program is.” Zak Ferrara had another top-20 slopestyle result coming in 13th and finishing 15th in the overall freestyle rankings. Teddy Karlinski finished 12th in halfpipe and Lujan followed in 16th.

AVSC Legends men’s riders – Chris Brockman, Mark Hogan and Andy Karlinski -took home some hardware of their own. Brockman scored bronze for slopestyle, silver for halfpipe and bronze for overall freestyle. Hogan ascended to his first nationals podium with a third-place finish in boardercross and second in the overall. Teddy and Jordan’s father Andy Karlinski showed that success is in the family genes with a halfpipe bronze medal, a 10th-place finish in slopestyle and a bronze in the overall freestyle rankings. Karlinski walked away with two additional medals – a gold for the alpine and a silver for the overall, which includes all five contests. However, Karlinski’s medal haul paled in comparison to AVSC’s Gailen Smith, who competed in the Methuselah age division – the oldest group at nationals. Smith simply overpowered his competition and won every event in which he competed.His remarkable eight gold medals showed that AVSC riders only get better with age, said coach Travis McLain.”Gailen was at the start of the next event before his rivals even crossed the finish line,” coach Travis McLain said. “Gailen outclassed everyone, added coach Chad “Chappy” Thomson. “We really should put him in the Open Class against the younger guys to give him some competition.”Wheeler was impressed by the camaraderie of the team at Nationals. “They were totally committed to supporting each other with advice and motivation,” he said. “We had a true team atmosphere which just isn’t that common in such an individualized sport.”

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