Mick Dierdorff missed the phone call he’d been waiting years for.
Thank goodness for voice mail.
The Steamboat Springs snowboarder is coming off his best season of snowboard cross racing, and last week he got the bump he’d been fighting for: He was named to the U.S. Snowboard Team.
“I was in the shower, I came down and looked on my cellphone and saw I had a missed call and a voice mail from the head coach of the U.S. team,” he said. “I just knew right at that moment. I kind of freaked out right there.”
Dierdorff has been close for years, making runs at the U.S. Olympic Team in 2010, then again this winter. He said the Olympics are a huge goal and that he was disappointed he missed the team again this cycle. The winter, though, proved his breakthrough, even without the trip to Sochi, Russia.
A season of strong results on the World Cup came to a head in La Molina, Spain, at the World Cup finale, where Dierdorff scored the best result of his career, finishing fifth and winning the small final.
“I always qualified well at every race, and I was always in contention in the heats,” Dierdorff said. “I finally put it together at the last race of the year and that was huge. That’s how I got the nod for the U.S. team.”
The difference this season, after years of small steps and “almost,” was cliche but powerful.
Dierdorff rode with a confidence he earned through years of work. He didn’t consider before the season what might happen if the 2013-14 winter turned into another mixed bag of ups and downs, whether he’d be able to continue for another year or another four.
“It never crossed my mind,” he said. “I knew I was going to do well. ... My riding was where I knew it could be.”
That confidence manifested itself on the snow. He qualified fourth in the season’s first World Cup. He didn’t back that up with a strong performance in the finals, finishing 17th, but that didn’t get him down.
“This year he was really comfortable, just confident,” said Jon Casson, who coached Dierdorff throughout his career in the Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club, then this year after Casson moved to Utah.
“I’ve seen him in the past if he had a bad time trial, he’d get frustrated. I’d see him let the bad stuff get him down longer, but this year, he brushed it off,” Casson said. “You add that confidence in with the maturity and the work ethic he has, and it’s a very powerful combination.”
That phone call means a swift change in summer plans for Dierdorff. He still plans to work construction in Steamboat Springs but will have to step away at times. He will leave for a rookie team orientation, then spend two weeks in June at a U.S. team training camp at Mount Hood, Oregon.
He’ll get the opportunity to live in Park City, Utah, and train at the Center of Excellence, then be off in the fall for more training camps. Finally another season on the World Cup awaits, this time with a full support staff that never was available before.
“I finally got selected to the U.S. team, and it’s something I’ve been aspiring to my whole career,” he said. “It’s one of the biggest opportunities I’ve had and it’s just such a great feeling to finally have that success and to get that phone call.”
To reach Joel Reichenberger, call 970-871-4253, email jreichenberger@SteamboatToday.com or follow him on Twitter @JReich9