Steamboat riders battle it out

National championships dominated by local duo

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— The battle for the alpine title in the Menehune division at the U.S. Amateur Snowboarding Association's national championships came down to two riders -- both of them from Steamboat Springs.

"We are best friends," Matt Ladley, 10, said of his teammate Blake Eddington, 12. "I met him when I came here snowboarding two years ago. When we moved here, we became best friends."

The two boarding buddies dominated the USASA National Championships, which took place in Sunday River, Maine, the last week of March. The duo combined for three first-place finishes and one second-place medal in five events in the 10- and 11-year-old age class.

Eddington posted a first in the slalom and the halfpipe and Ladley was first in the giant slalom.

"I didn't expect to win," Eddington said. He expected his buddy Ladley to win the halfpipe. But when Ladley went down, he helped pick up the slack for the team.

"We wanted to finish one-two, but he fell," Eddington said. "It's too bad because he's been riding better than me in that event this year."

Eddington used a 360, a Cab 540 and a couple of straight air grabs to impress the judges in the event. Ladley placed ninth in the final standings, but he didn't let his bout with bad luck slow him down.

He rebounded in the alpine events by winning the giant slalom later in the week and placing second in the slalom. The finishes helped the Steamboat rider take the overall title in the alpine standings. He edged out his teammate, and best friend, Eddington for that title.

"This was probably the biggest event of the year for me," Ladley said. "I wanted to ride in the U.S. Open, but I broke my collarbone and couldn't."

Because of the injury, Ladley only had two days of training prior to leaving for the nationals in Maine. But after a month on the sidelines, he arrived in Sunday River with high hopes.

He came out strong in the alpine events and helped his team, dominating the age class at the finals.

Eddington also posted top overall results at the week's end. He was second in the overall Alpine, fourth in the overall freestyle standings, second in the combined (freestyle and Alpine) and second in the overall triple combined, which includes all of the events. Ladley was also third in the overall combined.

"Steamboat definitely dominated this age division," Eddington said.

Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club coach Jon Casson said more than 20 local riders showed well in all of the classes at the national finals.

"The nationals are a long grueling week of competition," Casson said. "Our riders held up great and went out every day and gave it their best shot."

Riders earning first place medals at the event included Eddington and Ladley in the Menuhune class. Charlie Peddie also took a first in the giant slalom in the Breaker division, which is reserved for riders between the ages of 12 and 13. Steamboat's Emily Robinson also won the youth women's giant slalom race for riders ages 14 and 15. She also placed third in both the halfpipe and slalom events. She was first in the overall alpine and overall combined results. She also placed third in the overall triple combined.

By the end of the week, Steamboat had earned 10 individual medals and eight overall medals. But Casson said the week as about a lot more than just winning.

"We got a lot of compliments from other coaches, parents and spectators about the positive attitude, friendliness and professionalism of the Winter Sports Club athletes," Casson said. "That means more to the snowboard coaching staff than any placing or medal. We're all very proud of everyone's accomplishments, regardless of where they finished in the results."

"We are best friends," Matt Ladley, 10, said of his teammate Blake Eddington, 12. "I met him when I came here snowboarding two years ago. When we moved here, we became best friends."

The two boarding buddies dominated the USASA National Championships, which took place in Sunday River, Maine, the last week of March. The duo combined for three first-place finishes and one second-place medal in five events in the 10- and 11-year-old age class.

Eddington posted a first in the slalom and the halfpipe and Ladley was first in the giant slalom.

"I didn't expect to win," Eddington said. He expected his buddy Ladley to win the halfpipe. But when Ladley went down, he helped pick up the slack for the team.

"We wanted to finish one-two, but he fell," Eddington said. "It's too bad because he's been riding better than me in that event this year."

Eddington used a 360, a Cab 540 and a couple of straight air grabs to impress the judges in the event. Ladley placed ninth in the final standings, but he didn't let his bout with bad luck slow him down.

He rebounded in the alpine events by winning the giant slalom later in the week and placing second in the slalom. The finishes helped the Steamboat rider take the overall title in the alpine standings. He edged out his teammate, and best friend, Eddington for that title.

"This was probably the biggest event of the year for me," Ladley said. "I wanted to ride in the U.S. Open, but I broke my collarbone and couldn't."

Because of the injury, Ladley only had two days of training prior to leaving for the nationals in Maine. But after a month on the sidelines, he arrived in Sunday River with high hopes.

He came out strong in the alpine events and helped his team, dominating the age class at the finals.

Eddington also posted top overall results at the week's end. He was second in the overall Alpine, fourth in the overall freestyle standings, second in the combined (freestyle and Alpine) and second in the overall triple combined, which includes all of the events. Ladley was also third in the overall combined.

"Steamboat definitely dominated this age division," Eddington said.

Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club coach Jon Casson said more than 20 local riders showed well in all of the classes at the national finals.

"The nationals are a long grueling week of competition," Casson said. "Our riders held up great and went out every day and gave it their best shot."

Riders earning first place medals at the event included Eddington and Ladley in the Menuhune class. Charlie Peddie also took a first in the giant slalom in the Breaker division, which is reserved for riders between the ages of 12 and 13. Steamboat's Emily Robinson also won the youth women's giant slalom race for riders ages 14 and 15. She also placed third in both the halfpipe and slalom events. She was first in the overall alpine and overall combined results. She also placed third in the overall triple combined.

By the end of the week, Steamboat had earned 10 individual medals and eight overall medals. But Casson said the week as about a lot more than just winning.

"We got a lot of compliments from other coaches, parents and spectators about the positive attitude, friendliness and professionalism of the Winter Sports Club athletes," Casson said. "That means more to the snowboard coaching staff than any placing or medal. We're all very proud of everyone's accomplishments, regardless of where they finished in the results."

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