Craig Jon Casson thought a hectic travel schedule might have taken its toll on some of his riders. The Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club snowboard program director traveled with athletes straight from the USASA Nationals in Northstar, Calif., to the 2007 FIS Snowboard Junior World Championships, April 11 to 13, in Bad Gastein, Austria.
"We went straight from Munich to the mountain for practice," said Casson, who served as one of four coaches for the U.S. contingent, along with Winter Sports Club coach Adam Casanova.
If fatigue from the flight and course unfamiliarity hurt the U.S. riders' chances in the first day of snowboardcross competition, it didn't have too much effect on Winter Sports Club rider Mike Trapp.
"You've just got to get prepared on the airplane - you sleep, joke around, watch movies, and eat all the food you can get from the flight attendants," the 18-year-old native of Cape Cod, Mass., said.
Gauging a successful season of securing a junior national championship in the giant slalom and slalom at the NorAm finals as well as podium finishes in both events at USASA Nationals, Trapp still thought the junior worlds were the highlight of his season.
"You're looking around at the start and you know you're going against the best kids that are under 19 from all their home countries," said Trapp, who ended up advancing to the top-16 slalom finals and taking 13th place.
Racing in what she called, "classic spring conditions," Winter Sports Club rider Mimi Wiencke, 18, topped the U.S. finishes in the giant slalom with eighth place in her first junior worlds appearance.
"It was nice to end the season at junior worlds with my best FIS points finish all year," said Wiencke, who raced in her second finals run against repeat junior champion Ekaterina Tudigescheva (Russia). "She's the No. 1 overall woman in the world, for seniors too. On my first run I fell, but on the second, it was all or nothing, so I went for it and stayed with her."
Winter Sports Club rider Kevan Beall took the top U.S. finish on the male side of the giant slalom (37th). Mick Dierdorff and Conor Meyer had respectable finishes in the competitive field of men's snowboardcross, in 43th and 45th, respectively, and part-time Club rider Callan Chythlook-Sifsof took eighth in the women's side of the snowboardcross competition.
Due to poor snow conditions, FIS officials did not hold a halfpipe competition at the championships, keeping qualified Winter Sports Club riders Matt Ladley and Ross Baker from competing.
Although Casson thought the inclusion of the freestyle event would've surely helped the U.S. showing at the competition, he was pleased to have at least two riders reach the podium - Bantam, Conn., resident Brooke Shaw's bronze in snowboardcross and Aspen's Jordan Karlinski's silver in big air.
"The Europeans came out and did what they do best in the Alpine events," Casson said. "It was a great experience and we've got almost everybody eligible to compete next year. We've got a lot of talent and we've just got to represent that snowboarding was invented in the U.S."