Steamboat Springs It was a golden moment for Mick Dierdorff.
While competing in a Grand Prix in early March at Canyons Resort in Utah, the 21-year-old Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club member looked to both sides and realized just where he was.
Flanked by six-time X Games snowboard cross gold medalist Nate Holland and two time X Games medalist Nick Baumgartner, Dierdorff got the hole shot.
He eventually won the heat and finished fifth overall in the event.
It wasn’t a podium or his top result on the season. But there wasn’t a finish that meant more.
“The race showed my ability level against the top riders in the world,” Dierdorff said. “The U.S. is so strong. There are 12 guys that are all capable of doing well at World Cups. And the whole U.S. team was at that race.”
Now, Dierdorff finds himself in a similar situation. His season continued well, and he finished in the top three of the NorAm circuit, guaranteeing him a spot on the World Cup next season.
With it being an Olympic year, the first five World Cups next season will determine the four-man U.S. team.
Following the 2009 season, Dierdorff was coming off a win on the NorAm tour and guaranteed World Cup starts heading into the Olympic qualifying season of 2010.
But that year, Dierdorff, then 18, admitted he wasn’t ready.
“I know where I went wrong,” he said. “I wasn’t ready mentally or physically. It was the first time I rode World Cups. It was like going from the minor leagues to the pros. It was a really big step. Now, after having years of building up my riding to that level, I know I can race there.”
Dierdorff’s season started last summer when he decided to focus more on his training. In addition to using mountain biking as cross-training, he did Manic training to help him get in the best shape he could.
It also helped that mentally he was in a better spot.
“He spent a lot of time in the offseason getting fit,” said Jon Casson, the Winter Sports Club’s snowboard director. “Then he had good results at the beginning of the season. Then at the Grand Prix in Canyons, his confidence kept building.”
Dierdorff followed with nine top-10 finishes in 11 NorAm starts. He also picked up a win and had three other podiums.
Now the focus turns to summer. Dierdorff again will work in Steamboat and said he is looking to ramp up his physical training.
As opposed to the first time he was here as a wide-eyed 18-year-old, he said, this time will be different.
“My goal is to make the Olympic team,” he said. “I’m going to do everything I can possibly do and train as hard as I possibly can to get one of those four spots. I just got to do it better than 12 guys. We’re all trying to do the same thing.”
To reach Luke Graham, call 970-871-4229 or email lgraham@SteamboatToday.com