“Boardercross is fast, sketchy, head to head racing, baby!” said Team Utah Boardercross rider Hunter Wilson last week at the Canyons resort. He and his teammates train five or six days a week to master the art of going fast under the direction of head coach Jon Casson.
Even though this is Casson’s first year at Team Utah, his program is well established thanks to more than 14 years of coaching athletes from all over the US, Australia and New Zealand out of Steamboat Springs, CO. When the opportunity came to bring his technique to Utah’s terrain, Casson made the move and brought along an impressive coaching team.
(Team Utah Boardercross Coach and Olympian Graham Watanabe)
Assistant coaches include World Cup champion and two time Olympic athlete Graham Watanabe, World Cup rider Cody Brown and Team Utah founder Lane Clegg. Watanabe began coaching full time this year and told me, “I was kinda surprised that it’s just as rewarding to coach others to success [as to achieve success myself].” As rider Olyvia Weston puts it, “These are best coaches around.”
“Good Boardercross racers comes from being a great all-around rider,” said Casson. “Our team focuses on versatility – riding on any terrain at any time, confidence and adaptability.” Their focus on aggressive riding has already paid off for teammate Jarryd Hughes (AUS) who came home with a World Cup Win from Lake Louise Canada on December 21, 2013.
Other World Cup riders include Mick Dierdoff and Jenna Feldman. Current Olympic Gold medalist in half pipe, Torah Bright also joins Team Utah Boardercross as a guest athlete at World Cup races in her attempt to be the only athlete to qualify for the Olympics in three snowboarding disciplines. Roger Carver (previous World Cup athlete and Junior Olympian), Rosie Mancari, Duncan Campbell, Cole Schreiber and Alyssa Dolgin all compete this season looking to earn future World Cup slots.
With riders from all over the country and several from Australia, the boardercross team has a busy schedule ahead. They race in Andorra January 10-12, 2014 followed by Veysonnaz, Switzerland January 17-18, 2014. Follow that up with the Olympics in Sochi, Russia, the X games in Aspen, Colorado and NorAm races in Canada and the US, and it’ll be tough work ahead for this crew. From the looks of it, they’re up for the challenge.