A51 No Match For Collegiate Nationals Snowboarders

Austyn Williams

After enjoying sunny skies during the first day of practice, skiers and riders were welcomed with a late spring storm to kick off the first day of competition at the 2008 Collegiate Nationals. But Colorado, a state that is famous for rapidly changing weather, lived up to its reputation. By the beginning of the men’s skiing qualifiers in the afternoon,  the skies cleared and Mother Nature showed some love for the Collegiate Nationals competition. Unfortunately, the great winter-like weather didn’t last all day, as the atmosphere faded between an amazing spring day and grueling weather conditions.

The changing conditions didn’t fare well for competitors, as many became confused on speed and how fast to drop into the jumps. Because of the changing weather, event coordinators let Tae Westcott, a freeskiing competitor from Fort Lewis College, take his first run to test the speed of the snow without counting it as his first of two qualifying runs.

“I was glad they let me guinea pig the jumps so that both myself and the other competitors could grasp the tempo, since everyone was either casing the jumps or overshooting in runs that count,” said Westcott.

Despite the challenging conditions, the men’s freeskiing competition was filled with athletes known for pushing the envelope – from Colorado State’s Russell Follett throwing down huge double and single lincoln loops, to Colorado’s Michael Olenick, brother of pro skier Peter Olenick, hucking massive stylie switch 900. Willis Brown from the University of Colorado (CU) finished at the top by throwing a 900 on the first hit to a switch 900 on the second, finally finishing it up with a flat spin 540.

Throwing it down right behind the men were the women’s skiers who absolutely killed it. The judges had their work cut out for them as these ladies came out strong and raised the bar for women’s skiing. Throughout the competition, judges saw spins both ways as well as switch hits with five women advancing into the finals. CU finished on top with Claudia Bouvier taking first and Kristi Johns, also from CU, grabbing second.

The men’s snowboarding competition had a wide variety of tricks being thrown down on the jumps, including backside and frontside spins as well as many off-axis rotations. Riders from all over battled it out through extreme weather and snow conditions. Summit County’s own Christian Martin, representing Colorado Mountain College (CMC) ended up rocking out in first place, winning hefty prize money to cover his monthly rent. Coming all the way from Minneapolis Community Tech, Chaz Chaffee snatched up second place with Chris Bosco from the  University of Nevada rounding out the top three.

Last but not least, women’s snowboarding showcased the fury that A51 had to offer. Ladies from across Colorado battled for the top three spots, all keeping their eyes on the prize. Heather Baroody from CU came out huge and placed first followed by Kristen Hollum from Westminster placing second. Kaitlin McMurchie from Colorado State University landed a third place prize.

The Edge® Shave Gel Collegiate Freeskiing & Snowboarding Open Championships in Keystone Resort went down throughout all elements and rocked the socks off judges and spectators alike.  Look for Collegiate Nationals touring the rest of the country in Reno, NV and San Diego, CA and topping it all off in Boulder, CO.

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