Catching up with snowboarders Chris Corning and Chase Blackwell, who share motocross passion
COPPER MOUNTAIN — Summer equates to a whole heck of a lot of dirt-bike riding for Summit County U.S. Pro Team snowboarders Chris Corning and Chase Blackwell.
Both Corning, a Vail-Summit local originally from Arvada, and Blackwell, who splits his time between Dillon and Longmont, are avid motocross riders once their snowboard seasons conclude each spring. Both Corning and Blackwell typically ride single-track, though Corning has made it more of a habit of recent to ride motocross parks. Just last week, Corning rode around at the Leadville Motocross Park with his girlfriend and competitive motocross rider Shannatay Bergeron of Vail and other friends.
Blackwell, who just two weeks ago spent time at the AMA Pro Motocross event at Thunder Valley in Lakewood, said he’s excited to check out the Leadville Moto Park for the first time.
Corning said dirt-bike riding can help with snowboarding because it keeps your mind focused as, just like in snowboarding, in motocross if you make one bad decision you are going down.
“It’s been really fun to learn something new, push myself in a new way,” Corning said. “You think fast just like you do on a snowboard.”
Since the season ended for the two-time defending FIS World Cup season snowboarding champion Corning, the 19-year-old has mostly relaxed, though he joined Blackwell and other Team USA pro riders at a strength-and-conditioning camp at Mammoth Mountain in California last month.
Corning and Blackwell said the camp consisted of such strength-assessment technology as force-plate testing, which gauges how much power each rider can generate without the use of their hands. Corning, a young rider known for his ability to generate force on a big air jump or riding through a slopestyle course, was recorded on video by the U.S. snowboard team jumping through the ceiling panel. Reflecting on the camp, and on a successful 2018-19 campaign where he won the slopestyle World Championship in Park City, Utah, the snowboarder says he feels strong and healthy and is excited to start working soon one-on-one with coach Nate Henry of Landow Performance.
“I’ve been really stoked on how my body has been working and how everything has been riding,” Corning said.
Since the season ended for Blackwell, he’s had fun at casual spring comps such as the Neverland Banked Slalom at Loveland Ski Area, a race he won. Blackwell also spent extended time at Mammoth with his buddy and fellow U.S. Pro Team halfpipe rider Ryan Wachendorfer of Vail, the duo dialing in their riding further. Back on the home front, Blackwell said he’s helped his dad with manual labor for his commercial-framing business. With the building boom near Denver, as much help as the 20-year-old can provide, the better.
Pipeline Park: What makes it special
Corning, who’s attended Woodward Copper summer snowboard camps since he was 8, said this year’s park is the best yet.
Corning pointed to a versatile hip feature at the top of the park as something fun for him to launch off and something fun for the kids to watch pros on and to mess around on themselves. Blackwell lauded the park’s rail options and quarterpipe at the base.
“Last year it wasn’t much of a quarterpipe,” Blackwell said. “It was more of a slash bank to have fun with. This year, though, I’ve been doing kind of some of my pipe tricks on it, some of the smaller ones, and helping kids to learn tricks on the quarterpipe.”
Woodward Copper on-snow supervisor Giri Watts said the mission of this Pipeline Park is to serve a wide-spectrum of skills.
“And when the campers have a little bit of choice to create the experience for themselves, that creates a lot of buy-in,” Watts said.
This summer Woodward Copper installed some summer-themed features toward the bottom of the park, including pineapple and beach ball features and a wave. New this year, Copper campers can ride an up-down-up Killer Whale-themed sliding-box feature.
“Most of the campers slide straight off the end of the box,” Watts said, “and it offers a little bit of an up effect, that little bit of extra air.”
Women’s Nordic combined will not be in the Olympics in 2026, preventing the Winter Games from reaching gender equality. The International Olympic Committee elected to not add the sport to the schedule on Friday.
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