US rookie team raise Olympic bar in NZ

The US Rookie Freestyle Snowboarding squad has been hard at work down under perfecting their halfpipe moves ahead of the winter Olympics in Vancouver next year. Travelling to New Zealand with their coach Bud Keene the team looks set to take the US scene by storm when the national Olympic qualification campaign kicks of with the first leg of the US Snowboarding Grand Prix series on December 11th. Keene maintains that the squad of relative unknowns has taken rookie riding to a whole new level. He said: “These kids all have unbelievable tricks. Typically for a camp like this we would be down here to learn a whole bunch of stuff, but we had a little bit of a different focus. We want to make those big and take them to the Grand Prix.”

On the girl’s side Keene singled out Lizzie Beerman for special praise after she finished sixth at the Burton New Zealand Open earlier in the year. He added: “The biggest story from Lizzie after the Open was she landed about six or seven frontside 900s at about six to seven feet out of the pipe all day. “That is unprecedented for her and almost unprecedented for any woman.”

Amongst the young blokes on the rookie training camp, Matt Ladley has apparently stood out, by getting his double-cork 10s locked on. Bud Keene explained: “So much was going down and he was kind of like ‘I want in on that’ so he went ahead and learned the double cork ten. “That kind of behavior is pretty contagious with these rookie kids. Once Matt opens the door for the young kids to be able to do those tricks, they realize they’re just like him but it’s their turn.”

With rookies are throwing down double-cork tens, it looks likely that the bar to make the US Olympic halfpipe team will be set super-high. Whether established pros like the Mason Aguirre, Kevin Pearce and Louie Vito will struggle to make the team against these young guns or not, it looks like the qualification campaign could be interesting.

Action: Lizzie Beerman – US Snowboarding
Portrait: Lizzie Beerman – US Snowboarding
Portrait: Matt Ladley – US Snowboarding


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