U.S. Open Mountainboarding Championships return to Snowmass
The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO Colorado
SNOWMASS ” A nearly six-hour flight from Maui to the mainland. Nine hours holed up in Seattle-Tacoma International Airport. Two subsequent flights before touching down in Aspen.
The lengths Jasen Cicourel will go for a repeat.
“I lose [$4,000] to $5,000 willingly for this each year ” no one wants to sponsor someone who lives on a bump in the middle of the ocean,” the 39-year-old mountainboarder joked Thursday. “I wouldn’t miss this.”
The wait is over for Cicourel, known in mountainboarding circles as “The Plunger” (he’s a plumber by trade). The 2008 U.S. Open Mountainboarding Championships return to the slopes of Snowmass this weekend. The Open, the nation’s largest competition of its kind that will feature both pro and amateur dirt riders, is being held here for the sixth consecutive year.
Cicourel, who competes in the master’s division, swept all three events in 2007 en route to the overall title ” his third in four years.
After claiming titles in 2004 and 2005, Cicourel was forced to sit out in 2006 because of a severe right knee injury. He was attempting to land a big air in September 2005 at a Hawaii skate park when the force caused his left foot to skid off the back of the board, putting all the pressure on his right. He dislocated his knee and tore all the major tendons.
He was off the board for a year and a half. But returning to Snowmass ” his only mountainboarding competition each year ” was never in question, he said.
It was nearly one decade ago that Cicourel was first introduced to mountainboarding. The avid skateboarder, who transformed his backyard into a concrete pool ” “Three years and $25,000,” he said with a grin as he pulled up a photo on his cell phone ” was intrigued by the possibilities.
The attraction was immediate.
“Once you get over that hill, it’s all about speed,” Cicourel said. “[It’s all about] the adrenaline, of being able to ride a skateboard on grass. It takes you to different places.”
Like the slopes of Maui’s 10,023-foot Haleakala. In addition to swimming and cross training in skate parks and halfpipes, Cicourel’s Open preparation involved days spent on Maui’s largest mountain negotiating a nine-mile trail traversing dusty dirt-covered cane roads and vast fields ” a tract aptly known as “The Plunger”.
“It’s 1,700 [vertical feet] to the ocean,” Cicourel said.
And 3,200 miles from Maui to Snowmass.
While official Open qualifying begins Friday, the event got under way Thursday with a Camp Aspen/Snowmass Mountainboard clinic, featuring instruction from top pros Jereme Leaf, Kody Stewart and Akoni Kama. Twenty-nine kids between the ages of 6 and 15 took part, according to Doug Webb, the camp’s director of mountainboarding and skateboarding programs.
“It is so cool for these kids to meet these pros,” Webb added. “They get to see their heroes who they watch in videos, talk to them, have them sign their helmets. There’s a great vibe going on this week.
“It’s very important [that Snowmass continues to secure this event]. … It gives kids something to look forward to. It gives them something to train and set goals for.”
Finals for all three events ” the mass-start downhill, which starts at the top of the Scooper ski run (near the Village Express’ midway unloading station), boardercross and freestyle competitions ” will take place Saturday.
Seven-time national champion Jason Lee, two-time U.S. Open champion Leaf and reigning Open title holder Leon Robbins highlight a field of pros that will vie for the overall crown and the Eric Smith Cup.
Cicourel, believed to be one of the field’s oldest competitors, will shoot for a fourth win.
“I’ve been waiting 360 days for this,” he said.
For more information, visit http://www.stayaspensnowmass.com.
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