Ladley finishes third in Grand Prix

15-year-old snowboarder prepares for Norway's Arctic Challenge

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— Fifteen-year-old Matt Ladley just wanted to make the finals of the 2007 Chevrolet U.S. Snow Board Grand Prix.

It had been a goal he set out before the year.

On Saturday in Tamarack, Idaho, Ladley not only made the finals, but finished third in one of the top level competitions for snowboarding.

"It was great," Ladley said. "I was just stoked I made it to the finals. I just wanted to do the best I could."

Ladley qualified for the finals on Friday in what he called one of the best runs of his life. Then on Saturday - with snowy conditions - Ladley stuck his first of two runs to make it to the podium.

"It's just what I've been working on," said Ladley, who narrowly missed stomping his first switch 1080 in competition on his second run of the finals. "I was just happy to throw it down."

The event in Tamarack was one of three Grand Prix's held this year. Mammoth Lakes, Calif. resident Tommy Czeschin won the event and the overall title.

For Ladley - who started competing in the Grand Prix two years ago - Saturday marked the first time he made the finals in a Grand Prix event.

"Once he made the finals, it was just continuing to be himself," U.S. Snowboarding head coach Mike Jankowski said. "He rode that pipe like only Matt Ladley can. He has his own style and makes it look easy. It's an effortless type of feel to his runs."

Now Ladley prepares to leave for Norway where he'll compete in the Arctic Challenge - an invite only snowboarding competition. Ladley was the only rookie invited to the competition.

"I just can't wait to go to Norway," said Ladley, who left on Sunday for the competition. "Now that I've made the finals of the Grand Prix it's a real achievment. It's like I finally got over that hill."

For Jankowski, Saturday's results just reaffirmed that the U.S. Snowboarding program is going in the right direction.

"Matt's progression has been phenomenal," Jankowski said. "He's the model rider in our program. We want more Matt Ladley's. He's always working hard and having fun."

- To reach Luke Graham, call 871-4229

or e-mail lgraham@steamboatpilot.com

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