Snowboarding has taken me all over the country; Utah, Colorado, Idaho, California, Maine, Pennsylvania, New Mexico, Minnesota, and Oregon. Snowboarding has taken me all over the world; Canada, Switzerland, and this week, Valmalenco, Italy. The top riders of the United States born 1988 and after were invited to test their skills amongst the rest of the world this week at the FIS World Junior Championships. Brought together from various states and club teams from across the United States were ladies and gentlemen devoted to snowboarding and ready to compete at, what I began to call “The Age Limit Olympics”. Halfpipe, Snowboard Cross and Alpine riders united together to showcase snowboarding in the U.S. amongst various other Countries. Riders attended from Switzerland, Norway, Czech Republic, New Zealand, Australia, Turkey, Poland, Russia, Italy, Spain, France, Holland, Germany, Canada, Japan, Korea, China, Sweden, and Hungry.
To start the week off we had an opening ceremony in which each flag of participating countries was presented and welcoming remarks were spoken to the riders. Although I understood about four words through out the whole ceremony, we all applauded after the mayor of Valmalenco had a few words, and then endulged ourselves in a nicely prepared snack of meat wrapped around bread sticks, cheese nibblers, and pizza squares. Valmalenco is a two hour van ride from Milano. Nestled up in the magnificent mountains of The Italians Alps, we scored by earning a right to be on this team. A tram takes riders straight up the snow-less south side of a large, large mountain.
Once at the top your feet get taken out from under you when you glance to down to come to terms with the fact that your standing on a see-through metal plank extended over the mountain side. Rushing to safe ground one finds a run leading onto the resort. Pipe was ridden, Boardercross track was raced, Gates were arched and bended, and there was even spring time powder to be found with fair cliff drops to be had. Some riders competed in all three disciplines, others two, and others one, and some even came along for support, unable to compete due to untimely injuries. The United States faired with some riders bringing home medals and a presentable bouquet of flowers.
All in all this was the best trip of the season and a very cultural one at that. We all met riders from each country of the world and shared something in common on a world level this week. Snowboarding has introduced me to people form everywhere and any where, whether we were able to communicate through a shared language or only had a smile and a handshake the faces of individuals will be recognized somewhere down the road in the snowboard world.
Spencer Cordovano- USASA Pacsun National Team Rider