Fayette snowboarder begins path toward Olympic dreams – Tribune

Chris Adamski
Freelance Reporter
Pittsburgh Tribune-Review

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By Chris Adamski

Published: Monday, July 22, 2013, 12:01 a.m.

Updated 4 hours ago

In order to someday achieve her goal of making the U.S. Olympic team, Shannon Branthoover is working as hard as she can — 180 degrees at a time.

Branthoover, a 15-year-old from Indian Head — about 10 miles from Connellsville — has been chosen to participate in the U.S. Snowboard Team’s Development Program.

As part of the program managed by the U.S. Snowboard Team, Branthoover will travel and train with some of the best snowboarders and snowboarding coaches in the country and be evaluated and monitored on an ongoing basis. It is considered the first step to becoming an Olympic athlete.

“I’m so excited,â€� Branthoover said. “Overall, I’m just really glad I can be a part of everything. It’s really awesome that girls snowboarding is getting out there more for everyone.â€�

Branthoover spent the past school year at Carrabassett Valley Academy in Maine, a private co-ed ski and snowboard academy at the base of Sugarloaf Mountain that boasts two-time Olympic snowboarding gold medalist Seth Wescott among its alumni. Branthoover is one of 10 from Carrabassett Valley Academy to be chosen to participate in the U.S. Development program.

“I had so much fun up there working with the coaches and getting to travel and learning new things,� said Branthoover, who carries a No. 59 overall world ranking, according to the World Snowboard Tour website.

Among Branthoover’s highlights of the past year is placing second in the United States of America Snowboard Association nationals at Copper Mountain, Colo., this past spring. She also attended Project Gold Camp at Mammoth Mountain, Calif., last month.

“Shannon has worked very hard all season,� Carrabassett Valley Academy elite snowboard coach Kim Stacy said. “It was great to see it all come together at nationals, and we are pleased she has been chosen to participate in the national development program.�

Branthoover said she developed the itch for snowboarding at an early age but couldn’t take lessons until she was 7. Living near Seven Springs, she trains there as much as possible.

“I think at my first competition, I was like 10 — and all my competitors were 20-something,� Branthoover said.

A seminal moment came at the Gatorade Free Flow Tour event at Seven Springs in 2012, when Branthoover won both the women’s slopestyle and superpipe events.

Among Branthoover’s best tricks is the wildcat, which she describes as “kind of a reverse cartwheel.â€� She also can do both front and reverse 360-degree spins.

In addition to the Olympics, qualifying to compete in the Winter X Games is chief among Branthoover’s long-term snowboarding goals.

Chris Adamski is a freelance writer.

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