During the U.S. Ski and Snowboard Association’s Collegiate National Championships in Lake Placid, N.Y., Westminster College’s snowboard team raced in five events: Giant slalom, slalom, boardercross, rail jam and slope.
But because the team usually competes in rail jams and slopestyle, the new events left some of the riders feeling slightly out of place, said Cal Aamodt, who films the snowboard team.
“It’s fun to see members of the team get out of their element a little bit because they obviously don’t race competitively and they end up doing well in the events,” said Aamodt, a junior consumer science major at the University of Utah. “When you see members of the team on the mountain, you usually see them in the park.”
The championship was a five day event, where over 500 competitors competed in alpine, nordic, snowboard and freeski events, according to the United States Collegiate Ski & Snowboard Association.
This year’s championship events took place last month at Whiteface Mountain and featured collegiate athletes representing 65 universities from across six regions.
Westminster’s snowboard team generally compete in slopestyle events, hitting jumps and rails rather then racing down a course. The riders also use different board set-ups than when they race, which makes riding in the park more difficult compared to their regular board set-up, team members said.
“It’s honestly extremely refreshing,” said Rob Roethler, a junior business major and member of Westminster’s snowboard team. “There is so much that goes into taking a simple turn that you never really think about when you’re hitting jumps and rails. When you are set up posi-posi on a board a couple inches longer than usual that’s built to stay on the ground, all that matters is board control versus your willingness to go fast.”
Westminster took second place for men’s slopestyle and rail jam and first place for giant slalom. Westminster’s women took the gold in giant slalom, boardercross, rail jam and slalom, allowing the team to place first in the combined overall freestyle and alpine. The men took first place overall for alpine and second overall for freestyle.
“Racing is definitely a new thing for me,” said Haille Soderholm, a senior neuroscience major at Westminster. “We are mainly slopestyle riders, so there’s a big difference in the atmosphere. It definitely teaches you to be a better overall snowboarder when you can race and do freestyle and it really pushes your boundaries, especially when you are competing against the hard booters who race all the time.”
Nationals concluded the snowboard team’s season, which will start up again Fall 2018.
“We have not done much racing as a team, so it’s interesting to see everyone compete in alpine,” Aamodt said. “We are one of the best snowboard teams in the country. When it comes to slopestyle and when you watch everyone do incredibly well in the racing events, it just goes to show how talented Westminster’s snowboard team really is.”