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SMALL BUT MIGHTY

HOLIDAY VALLEY SNOWBOARD TEAM MAKES NOISE

Holiday Valley’s Training Center has a rich history of developing strong, competitive ski and snowboard teams. While the ski team’s prominence is more well-known because of Olympic athletes like Jill Vogtli and Travis Mayer, the snowboard team continues to turn heads with wins across the region. While the team consists of only 10 riders, a driven coaching staff keeps the team progressing towards loftier goals. 

“There’s a lot of combined experience with the coaches,” said Curtis Boza. His first year as a coach, Boza and the other four coaches — James Wangelin, Katie Lynn, Derek Rocco and Julie Filipowicz — push the team to get better when they gather each weekend. They focus on three primary areas of riding: slopestyle (jump and rail lines); rails (for rail jams); and boardercross (racing against other riders in a course with turns and rollers). 

“James grew up with Katie in the program, so with that much experience both riding and coaching, they’ve got a really good pulse on what the kids should be doing,” Boza said. “When you have a group of boys and girls ranging from 13- to 17-years-old, you’ve got to be able to keep it fresh so they don’t get bored or burned out.” 

The team travels around the region competing in events, most of which are sponsored by USASA (United States of America Snowboard and Freeski Association). While they typically head to both Pennsylvania and Ohio for events, tough snowfall on the East Coast has limited their competitive exposure. But a slopestyle event at nearby Peek’n Peak earlier this season saw four silver and two bronze medals — setting the stage for the rest of the winter. 

“The kids had a good showing early in the year, but maybe didn’t do as well as they wanted,” Boza said. “But it’s good to go to other resorts and ride different terrain. We took them to HoliMont a few weekends ago, and we saw some really great progression. Just them riding different features and different terrain allowed us to tweak some things.” 

From January 31-February 3, the team traveled Lake Placid to compete in the Empire State Games, an Olympic-style competition. The Games started at Syracuse University in 1978 and has become a regular on the competitive circuit. Holiday Valley’s snowboard team was well-represented this year on the podium, taking 3 golds and 4 silvers. Custer City native Cal Minich took 1st overall in the boardercross, while Grace Belton was chosen to begin the torch relay down Yodeler. All in all, a successful trip for the team. 

“Going to a mountain that’s bigger and different than Holiday Valley is good for them,” Boza said. “Especially when they come away with wins. It’s cool to see our little hill churning out athletes that can compete with kids who grew up riding more advanced terrain.”

Every team member that’s participated in boardercross has qualified for Nationals, which take place at Copper Mountain (Colorado) at the end of March. While the team is still deciding who will go, the fact they made it is really cool. 

The success of the team this year will only help its growth. As more of the team wins, the more their peers will want to join in on the fun. If you’ve got a snowboarder in the family that’s interested in joining the team, Boza encourages you to contact the Training Center at Holiday Valley to get involved. 

“These kids are competing at a high level, and have a chance to compete on the national stage,” Boza said. “We’re going to continue to grow and help the kids progress.”