Wednesday, January 17, 2001
Steamboat Springs The top junior snowboarders in the country are in Steamboat Springs this week trying to find their edge for the Junior World Championships that will take place in Italy in April.
"This is definitely a rewarding experience," Steamboat's Jamie Curcio said.
The 18-year-old rider will compete in halfpipe and giant slalom at the championships. He was one of 35 riders from around the country in town for the weeklong event.
"It's just a great experience," Curcio said. "It's a chance to work on your skills, but it's also about bonding with your teammates as well."
This is the second year the weeklong camp has been held in Steamboat. Local snowboarding coach Mike Mallon is the head alpine coach for the World Junior Team and has been able to land the camp here in Steamboat.
"It's great having it here," Curcio said. "I can stay out with these guys until 11 p.m. each night, go to sleep in my own bed and then get up and be at the morning session early in the morning."
For Curcio, the camp is about a lot more than just preparing for the International Snow-
boarding Federation's (ISF) World Juniors. He cracked two vertebrae in his back earlier in the season and has just recently returned to the snow.
"This is a great way to get going again. There are a lot of really good snowboarders here this week and they are totally pushing me," Curcio said.
Mallon is running the game with a staff of six other coaches, including the head freestyle coach Phoebe Mills, a 1988 Olympic bronze medal winner in gymnastics, who has turned her attention to teaching up-and-coming snowboarders the skills necessary to win in the halfpipe.
"We have talked about the Junior Championships, but I think the focus is just to get to know everyone on the team and improve our skills," Steamboat snowboarder Joe Eddy said.
This is Eddy's first ISF junior national camp. The halfpipe specialist said he hasn't learned a lot of new tricks but is working on perfecting the tricks he knows.
Eddy is already off to a quick start this season. He has won two USSA competitions including one in Steamboat Springs on New Year's Eve weekend.
"It's been really fun racing with kids from all around the country," Eddy said. "Everyone that is here is really good."
Those athletes are also being taught by a top level of coaches. In addition to Mallon and Mills, four other assistant coaches are on hand this week.
Besides the on-slope training, the camp also includes several physical tests designed to evaluate where the athletes are in their conditioning.
The camp focuses on three separate events, including the halfpipe, a dual giant slalom and a boarder cross event.
All of the riders are hoping to do well in those events, which will be offered at the ISF Junior World Championships that will take place in Sappada, Italy, starting April 3.