Steamboat Springs The warm weather outside has most people in Steamboat Springs thinking about summer, but some cool news from the U.S. Snowboard Team has a pair of local riders thinking about next winter.
Margo Christiansen, communications director for the U.S. Ski and Snowboard Association, confirmed Monday that Matt Ladley has been promoted to the U.S. Snowboard Team’s men’s pro half-pipe team and that Taylor Gold has been named to the rookie team. While the athletes have been nominated to the team, the association will make an official announcement in November.
Ladley said the promotion means more support, more opportunities and more sponsors next winter.
“This is something I’ve been working toward for a while,” Ladley said. “I was stoked to get the news.”
Ladley credits top results including a second-place finish at a Dew Tour event in Breckenridge and a victory at a Grand Prix event in February at Mammoth for his promotion.
Top results at the Junior World Championships and U.S. Nationals at the end of the 2010-11 season also helped Gold, who was named to the rookie team, Christiansen said.
“I’m really happy to be a part of it,” Gold said Monday. “The past few years, I’ve been trying to make the team, and I’m coming off of one of my better years.”
The 17-year-old will follow fellow Steamboat Springs snowboarders including Ladley and Madeline Schaffrick into the ranks of the national half-pipe team. Schaffrick also is a member of the rookie team along with Paul Brichta and Benji Farrow, who have trained in Steamboat.
Gold said that he is looking forward to the opportunities that will come his way as a part of the national team this season but that he isn’t going to let the pressure of being named to the team change his outlook or the way he approaches the sport this season.
“It’s a huge honor,” Gold said. “But I’m not going to let it change my expectations to perform. I’m just going to keep enjoying snowboarding and having a good time. That’s what I did last year, and it really paid off.”
Gold said he plans to spend his summer in Steamboat Springs working with Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club coach Ashley Berger. In August, he will head to New Zealand for a camp and a couple of competitions.
“I expect him to keep snowboarding and to keep having fun.” Berger said. “He’s mentally tough, so I know he’s going to be fine and keep excelling.”
Berger has worked with Gold for more than seven years and watched the young Steamboat snowboarder climb to the U.S. Ski Team.
“I’m so proud of him,” she said. “I’m not surprised. I knew this was coming.”
— To reach John F. Russell, call 970-871-4209 or email jrussell@SteamboatToday.com