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Team snowboards its way to excellence

Adia Waldburger of the Record staff

It’s good to be the most popular kid on the block just ask Michael Bell, Park City Snowboard Team’s (PCSBT) program director and coach. His premier program is drawing riders from all over the country to take advantage of all that Park City and his coaching staff have to offer.

"I’m drawing alpine and freestyle from top programs and academies from the East Coast to the West Coast," Bell said. "They’re all coming here."

Last week, at the International Ski Federation Parallel Giant Slalom (FIS PGS) Alpine Snowboard Nor Am at Copper Mountain, Colo., much of Bell’s team competed and a few emerged with significant accomplishments. Lindsey Lloyd, who hails from the Ogden area, qualified for two World Cup events in Quebec, Canada. The World Cup events are part of an Olympic qualifying series.

Alyssa Raddar, of Mount Shasta, Calif., was one of the female junior athletes to qualify for the FIS Junior World Championships to be held later in the season in Korea. Bell expects another one of his promising juniors, Abbey Champagne, to qualify for the FIS Junior Worlds later in the year.

Alpine is not the only area in which the PCSBT is excelling. Bell is preparing to take four of his team members, Alex Lyman, Gavin Hill, Elijah Greene and Cody Weselis, to Colorado next week to train on better snow and prepare for the 2005-2006 Chevrolet U.S. Snowboard Grand Prix in Breckenridge, Colo. Dec 13-17. The event is a qualifier for more Junior Worlds spots and Bell expects his kids to do well.

"We’d like to see five of our juniors in the FIS Junior Worlds. We’ve already got one," Bell said.

The team’s success is just one of the many reason boarders are attracted to the locally based program. Bell cites proven success, staff, location and training facilities as some of the major draws for young promising riders from around the country. In just one year, the PCSBT team has doubled in size and will likely continue to grow.

"We’re starting to pull more athletes locally as well as from all over the country. We’ve also pulled super qualified staff. That helps with the draw," said Bell.

Bell’s staff comes from Park City and Salt Lake. Most are ex-professional boarders and former U.S. team coaches, which helps maintain the quality of the program. The PCSBT features both alpine and freestyle-specific full-time high-level competition teams, as well as a weekday developmental team and a junior weekend team. Bell asks that his riders enter the program at a moderate skill level to keep up with the rest of the team. When riders inquire about joining the team, Bell ensures that both the youth and parents are willing to commit to the rigorous demands of the team. Bell says that the PCSBT is a competition-focused team, and so an interview is required to ensure a prospective member is a suitable match for the program.

According to Bell, riders from outside of the state will often make the arrangements needed to train with the PCSBT. Kids may move with their parents, live in Park City for the season with one family member or live with host families in the area. Bell is currently recruiting a young boarder from Poland and is relying heavily on host families to help bring him to the States.

The PCSBT program starts in the fall with conditioning and season preparation and runs until the end of competition in the spring. In the summer, Bell and his staff also offer camps. Last summer he took the freestyle team to competitions in New Zealand and his staff took the alpine team to Chile so the riders had an opportunity to keep themselves in top shape during the off-season.

The team will travel to Okemo, Vt. later in the season for two more World Cup qualifiers, where Bell expects Lloyd and others to perform well. There are a total of five World Cup qualifying events during the season. There are also a number of national and regional competitions where the PCSBT can show off their riding skills.

"Kids have been super excited when they see the progress that they’ve made," said Bell. "When their friends and teammates do well they’re excited and they’re excited for their own progression and success."

For more information on the PCSBT programs and results, log onto http://www.pcsbt.org.


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