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Thursday, 07 February 2013 09:07

Snowboarders get first taste of competition

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From left, Ryder Petrick, James Moch, Simon Carlsson and Jackson Whenham all took part in a snowboarding competition in January. From left, Ryder Petrick, James Moch, Simon Carlsson and Jackson Whenham all took part in a snowboarding competition in January. Photo submitted

Four southeast Alberta snowboarders took part in a snowboard cross competition in Lake Louise in January with one earning a second place finish in the under 12 category.


Redcliff’s Ryder Petrick, 11, earned second in his race on the second day of the event. He, along with Simon Carlsson, of Dunmore, and James Moch and Jackson Whenham, both of Medicine Hat, represented snowboarders from the Elkwater Race Club at the competition.
Petrick started skiing at age three and then took up snowboarding a year later.
“I thought I’d try it,” he says about his first  snowboarding competition. “I enjoyed it. It was fun.”
His favourite part is the speeds you can reach racing down the course.
Snowboard Cross (SBX) is a popular snowboard race format that is part of both the Olympics and X-Games. The sport features four riders racing over a series of bumps, jumps and curves to the finish line. The Evolve Open SBX took place Jan. 19-20 at Lake Louise, Alta.
Tanisha Petrick, Ryder’s mother, explains her son played hockey since age four, but this year wanted to do a different sport and decided to join the Elkwater Race Club which meets at Hidden Valley Resort in the Cypress Hills.
“His dad snowboarded and he wanted to do what his dad did,” says Tanisha. “He really enjoys it.”
Ryder plans on competing again and will stick with snowboarding for the foreseeable future.
Ten-year-old Simon Carlsson was happy to see his friend and fellow club member do so well in his first competition. Carlsson has been a member of the Elkwater club for three years, but has been snowboarding for four.
“I started skiing when I was five, but I really didn’t like it that much,” he says.
He enjoys snowboarding more because he thinks it “looks cooler” and likes the freedom of not having to use poles. While it can be easier to learn to ski, Carlsson says it is easier to improve on a snowboard.
In the Lake Louise competition, Carlsson came in third and fourth in his heats — not bad considering it was also his first time in a competitive situation.
“I like competing,” says Carlsson, who is hooked. “Just snowboarding by itself is awesome, but yes, I will compete again.”
Carlsson likes the speed of racing, but also completing tricks on the rails and jumps.
He spends every Saturday on the Hidden Valley Resort slopes, training with his fellow club members, and even some Sundays.
“I have an excellent time. My friends are great and my coach is excellent. She’s a very good coach.”
Carlsson’s coach is Jesika Hood. This is her second year as one of the coaches for the Elkwater Race Club. This season there are about 14 snowboarders ranging in age from seven to 14. Participants can be as young as six up to 19 years of age.
With the full contingent of snowboarders honing their skills on the hill on a Saturday, they are broken into groups based on their ability levels and three coaches, including Hood, work with them.
Participants learn snowboard cross racing techniques as well as freestyle components such as jumps and tricks.
“We try to make them well-rounded riders,” says Hood.
She was impressed with how her students did at their first competition but believes just the experience of competing is rewarding.
“They get out there and see how other kids are doing and know if they need to push themselves more or if they are ahead of the pack already,” she adds.
“I’m really proud of both of them (Petrick and Carlsson). They tried their best in the race. They’d never even see a race track before that weekend.”
Competing is also a good opportunity for snowboarders to experience terrain that is different from the Cypress Hills.
Hood was a skier, but started snowboarding when she was 12. Born and raised in Medicine Hat, she now helps others learn the sport.
“I like snowboarding because it’s something you can do for a lifetime,” she says. “You can do it with your friends or family or whenever you feel like it.”
As a female involved in the sport, Hood would like to see more young girls taking up snowboarding and joining the Elkwater Race Club. This season there is only one female snowboarder.
More people involved in the sport of snowboarding is what officials with Alberta Snowboarding (ASA) want to see.
The non-profit provincial sports association has been around since 1989 and helps promote the development of snowboard training and competition in Alberta.
This season the ASA is running three events and then assisting clubs in the province to host an additional 13 to 15, says Aletta de Rooij, with Alberta Snowboarding.
The ASA represents riders as young as five and the oldest still competing are around 40. The core group of competitors range in age from 12 to 20. The association has about 500 members in Alberta, which has remained consistent the past three or four years.
For more information about Alberta Snowboarding email: admin@albertasnow boarding.com, phone 403-247-5609 or visit the website at: www.albertansnowboarding.com.

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Rose Sanchez

Assistant Managing Editor