Locals fare well snowboarding

— For Jamie Curcio and Keenan Rice, last week's United States Amateur Snowboarding Assoc-

iation's national finals couldn't have been much better.

Both riders have qualified several times in the past but had never won the gold medal. That all changed last week at the event, which was held March 19-24 in Mammoth Mountain, Calif.

Curcio was a double gold medal winner, taking top honors in the slalom and giant slalom races in the men's jams division. The top finishes also helped him collect the overall alpine title in his division.

"It was a great way for him to go out," mom Cathy Curcio said. "He has been going since he was 9 years old and this was his last year."

Cathy Curcio said she wasn't sure what kind of year her son would have after he broke the vertebrae in his back early in the season. She said she was thrilled to watch him come all the way back and win not only one gold medal, but two.

"It was just thrilling," she said. "We couldn't have been happier."

Curcio left after the championships to take part in the World Junior Championships in Italy.

Rice won the men's halfpipe in the open class. It was also a first for the snowboarder who has been going to the championships for the past three years but had never won a medal.

"I'm just so excited that I finally landed a run in competition," Rice said. "This was my biggest finish ever."

Rice qualified for the halfpipe in second place and then beat out Nick Batko in the finals with his first run.

"I thought for sure that I was going to get beat," Rice said. "That's why I was so excited to finally win."

The winning run consisted of a McTwist, a crippler 720 (a back flip while doing a 720) and a switch 720 (a backward 720).

Other top Steamboat finishers included Ashley Berger, who made a splash in her nationals debut. She took first place in the slopestyle and second in the halfpipe to claim the women's jams overall freestyle title. Berger was also fourth in the boardercross.

John Makens took fifth place in the slopestyle of the the men's open division and Scott Stanko was a third place giant slalom winner in the breaker boys division.

Blake Eddington took top honors in the grommet division, collecting a first in the slalom, first in the giant slalom and winning the overall alpine title.

He was also fourth in the boardercross, which helped him take the triple overall title (which goes to the top rider in five different events) as well. He was fifth place in the halfpipe and had a sixth-place finish in the slopestyle.

Steamboat was well represented in the youth men's division where Michael Antalek took second in the boardercross and Lex Koski finished sixth. Koski was also second in the youth men's triple overall. Teammate Joe Eddy was second in the halfpipe and fourth in the slopestyle, earning him the second-place ranking in the overall freestyle results.

Tori Koski was a force to be reckoned with in the women's youth division as she placed second in the slalom and fourth in the giant slalom to take second place in the overall alpine standings.

She was also third in the boardercross event, which helped her finish second in the triple overall category. Top-10 finishes in both the halfpipe and slopestyle events helped her secure fifth-place ranking in the overall freestyle and a second-place ranking for alpine freestyle combined.

Charlie Peddie dominated the Menehuna boys division, collecting first-place finishes in the boardercross and slalom. He also placed third in the halfpipe and sixth in the slopestyle. He was third in the triple overall and fourth in the freestyle overall standings.

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