"The X-Games energy definitely fueled their competitive drive," said Jason Troth, head snowboard coach at the Telluride Mountain School, of his two TMS athletes Harry and Hagen Kearney. Troth, himself a three-time X-Games Bordercross competitor, used his years of pro riding experience to get both Kearny boys amped up, physically and mentally, for the event. With snowboards waxed and edges ground to razor-sharp magnitude (allowing riders to carve into the course's icy burms), TMS riders left the event reeling with heady X-Games dreams.
Harry Kearney dominated his Menehune Boys age class (ages 10-11 years), taking home two gold medals in Saturday and Sunday's back-to-back bordercross events. Brother Hagen, competing in the much larger and competitively fiercer Breaker Boys division (ages 12-13), could not overcome the stiff competition on day one and was knocked out after the qualifying run. He returned to the bordercross course with renewed fire on day two, however, and thanks in great part to excellent starts in each of his runs, finished in sixth place for Breaker Boys.
Five riders from TSSC also competed in Copper, four of whom were racing for their first times ever in a bordercross contest. Dylan Cooney, the only veteran in the group, showed his experience with a fourth place finish in the Jams Men class (ages 18-22 years) on the first day of competition, and a seventh place finish on the second day. Grommet Boys (ages 8-9 years) racer Fletcher Reich also stuck it to his competition on day one, with an impressive second place finish, and returned on Sunday to take third.
Jerry Mark and Danny West joined TMS's Kearney in battling it out in the brutal Breaker Boys division, but were knocked out early to finish in a ninth place tie on both days. Youth Men (ages 14-15 years) racer Michael Nelson tied for seventh place on both days.
Local rider Mike Flanagan was also a fixture at the Copper bordercross, and managed to best his competition in the Masters Men division (ages 30-39 years) with first place finishes both days.
The Telluride riders performances were especially impressive, considering that no Telluride competitor had trained or raced on a bordercross course this season before Saturday's contest. Bordercross is a difficult event to enter into "cold turkey," said Troth, due to the tough mental aspect inherent in this type of competition – where a gaggle of riders simultaneously tackle a course littered with big jumps, burms and turns.
"Mentality is everything coming into a race like this. With multiple riders on the track, you have to get a good start and get out in front of the pack early," said Troth. "It comes down to not only the physical preparation of your body and equipment, but also your mental preparation."
Following their performances at Copper on Sunday, the Kearney brothers and Troth traveled to Aspen to watch the X-Games men's halfpipe snowboard event. Sunday evening in Aspen proved to be the highlight of the Kearney brothers' weekend, as the duo chatted with snowboard idol Nicholas Mueller of Switzerland and American Shaun White. What could be better than Harry's two gold medals, won in the weekend's USASA bordercross? An X-Games jersey, given to the boys by Mueller and a photograph taken with snowboard icon White.
Snowboard action resumes for both TSSC and TMS snowboard teams this weekend, as Telluride hosts a slopestyle and halfpipe competition on Sunday.