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Tough Break For Boarder

Broken Collarbone Sidelines Hanover Senior

Snowboarder Matt Beach added the half-pipe to his repertoire this winter to help broaden his snowboarding horizon. By his own admission, he may have soared too high above it.

Beach, a Hanover High senior, qualified for next week’s USASA National Championships at Colorado’s Copper Mountain in both the slopestyle and half-pipe, only to break his collarbone while practicing the latter at the Killington ski area last Saturday. The injury will prevent him from participating in what would have been his third straight trip to the national meet, and first in the 18-22 (“Jam”) division.

Beach had qualified with a pair of outright wins and a runner-up finish in both slopestyle and half-pipe in the Southern Vermont series, held throughout the season at Mount Snow and Okemo Mountain.

It was while edging Burlington’s John Welch at Mount Snow on March 3 that Beach said “everything finally clicked” for the half-pipe. Judges scored him an aggregate 1,020 points, 110 points higher than Welch.

“I got the biggest amplitude I ever got, about five feet,” Beach said in a recent phone interview. “The thing about the half-pipe is that it can be awkward because you’re doing tricks sideways. You’re sideways in the air, and it’s an incredible feeling. I got better (throughout the season), but it was a slow process. Then when I finally ‘got it,’ I think I just got overconfident.”

Building up much more speed heading into the pipe while practicing at Killington, Beach said he doubled the amplitude he’d achieved at Snow before crashing. He was hospitalized with a broken collarbone and a mildly punctured lung.

“The half-pipe itself at Killington is actually similar to Mount Snow; the only difference is the amount of distance between the starting gate and the pipe,” Beach said. “At Snow, you’re starting about 50 feet from the pipe, whereas at Killington it’s about 200 feet away. So (at Killington) I just got too much speed and wasn’t prepared to go up so high in the air. I had no idea of the impact it was going to cause.”

A snowboarder since age 8, Beach honed his skills at with Whaleback Mountain’s Core Team, and grew to be one of the region’s top male teenage competitors.

He qualified for the national meet in slopestyle as a sophomore with a No. 59 national ranking — the top 60 are invited — before winning the New Hampshire series last year and placing 20th overall in Colorado.

Beach switched to the more-competitive Southern Vermont circuit this year and began training with Killington coaches in hopes of advancing his skills. It worked, as Beach is now ranked ninth nationally in slopestyle and fourth in half-pipe.

Unfortunately for Beach, he won’t be able to show off his progress at Copper Mountain.

“It’s pretty devastating, because I put probably 20 to 24 hours per week into snowboarding this year, between Whaleback and Killington, dry-land and on the slopes or in the pipe. If I wasn’t boarding, I’d be practicing on trampolines and things like that. So I’ve put a lot of my life into the sport.

“The only silver lining is that I got hurt while doing what I loved, and while progressing. It wasn’t like I got hurt falling down the stairs. It was a big deal for me to take on the half-pipe, because it’s something I thought I’d never do.”

Beach laments the closing of Whaleback, whose owners will not reopen after this season due to financial issues. Beach credits Whaleback’s coaches for fostering his love of the sport.

“They really got me to appreciate snowboarding for the great sport that it is,” said Beach. “Whaleback is where it became a sport to me and not just a hobby.”

Cycle Series Stays Put: The Claremont Cycle Depot Bike Club’s points race series will remain active this spring and summer at Twin State Speedway — at least until the venue is sold.

Speedway owner Dennis Fleury cancelled its 2013 asphalt auto racing series, which had been held there — originally under the moniker Claremont Speedway — since 1947.

The CCD Bike Club has been holding weekly cycling races on the speedway’s oval for at least 25 years, according to store manager Bob Herrin.

“If the track gets sold, it will be up to the new owners, but the bike series is still good to go as we speak,” Herrin said.

A popular training circuit for larger individual races, the CCD point series runs Tuesday afternoons from May to September. It’s a complement to other summertime activities put on by the bike club, including weekly evening road rides and off-road rides.

The club plans to enroll members in up to three mountain bike races this summer in Newport, Sunapee and Claremont’s Moody Park.

“We’re starting to get a lot of hybrid-type folks who like cruising on roads as well as off-road stuff,” Herrin said.

“We’ve got a lot of guys who mountain bike now, but (the points race series) is always going to be popular because you’re always going to have guys who want to hone their skills and abilities.”

Last year the series had 35 regular participants, 22 in its 60-lap ‘A’ series and another 13 in its ‘B,’ or 40-lap, races.

Jared Pendak can be reached at jpendak@vnews.com or 603-727-3306.