COPPER MOUNTAIN, Colorado - Flow Ambassador Lydia Silber took home 1st place in the United States of America Snowboard Association Youth Women's Halfpipe & Slope Style Nationals held at Copper Mountain, Colorado. The Winter Park, Colorado local has been riding for eight years and competing in snowboard competitions for 7 of them. Flow had a chance to catch up with Lydia and her father Jay Silber to go over the USASA competition and see what their plans were for the rest of the winter.
Lydia secured the top spot with a great technical run in the halfpipe with a straight air, backside 540, frontside 360, cab 540, switch backside 360 ending with a straight air. Her run scored a 95.
"The judges definitely seemed to like the technicality of my run versus just going with big airs and not many spins," said Lydia. "My coach and I have been working the past two seasons on just having a really technical line and putting challenging combinations together."
All the hard work and training certainly came into play on the slopestyle competition, as her father Jay explained.
"For her slopestyle run on jumps Lydia was going to do cab 540 to frontside 360 to a backside 540," said Jay. "The weather conditions eliminated this run as an option and forced all of the competitors to go from plan A to plan Z... the worst case scenario. The weather was HORRIBLE! It was dumping snow with 25 mph sustained wind, visibility was seriously down to 10'-20' at times. There was talk of canceling and rescheduling the event for 2 days later, then the officials warned of the competitors only getting one run, so make it good."
Finally the call was made that everyone would get their two runs, but it might take all day with weather delays. The comp was held up multiple times when visibility and safety became issues. Practice went pretty good, the speed was ok and Lydia was clearing the jumps. From the time the competition started, to when Lydia dropped 30 minutes later, the snow had turned into sticky muck. She came off of the first rail feature and had no speed going into the first jump so she wasn't able to do anything other than straight airs, barely clearing the knuckles, everyone was having the same problem (some worse than others.)
Lydia treated this as a practice run and it became clear that this was going to come down to being a one jump competition in her second run. We were going to make a wax adjustment on the fly and hope that it would work, use the first two jumps to generate the speed to try to spin something on the final jump. So after her not so ideal first run, she was sitting in 3rd.
Lydia and her coach Mike Branson, figured that if she was in 3rd place with straight airs, any kind of spin in a blizzard would likely get her into the top spot..It was time to try some wax that we had been carrying around for 3 seasons in case a situation like this ever occured. The weather did not let up when she dropped for her final run, it was one of the gnarliest conditions she had ever had to jump in at a contest, absolutely crazy.
The wax adjustment worked and things went as hoped, she did a halfcab on the first jump, straight aired the second jump and got the speed necessary to do a nice clean backside 360 on the third jump in a near white out. It wasn't the run she had hoped to lay down at Nationals, but it was the right decision given the scenario and it paid off. She moved in to the top spot by nearly 20 points. Luckily she had the 2nd run to get the wax right or she probably would have ended up in the 3rd spot or lower.
Days like these don't happen all of the time, however, at Nationals they seem to pop up every couple of years given the time of year that it is. Spring time in Colorado is as bi-polar as it can get sometimes, you have to be able to fall back and change your plan in an instant while setting emotions aside. That's not always easily done, but Lydia and her brother Freddy, have had success over the years by being able to tone things down and revert to the basics when necessary."
Any special thanks that you would like to give to those that have helped support your climb to the top of the podium?
Yes! Definitely my coaches, my parents, and my team. My coaches have been a huge help throughout the season motivating me and making sure I'm out having fun and doing what I love. Big thanks to my Dad for basically everything. He has been making sure my boards are going fast with correct wax and that I'm signed up for certain contests. And my Mom, Carmen, just being so supportive and allowing me to do what I love. My team has been such a big help as well. My team is all boys so having that makes me push myself harder than I ever would and kinda show off a little here and there. I want to say thanks to all of my sponsors because without their help, we wouldn't be able to afford to do this. FLOW has been awesome for a lot of years, thank you guys so much and a big shout out to Thunder for getting product to me on the fly sometimes. Winter Park Resort continues to be a big supporter, Smith Optics, Nikita for my outerwear, the Grand Foundation here in Colorado and the Winter Park Skier Education Fund, my Grandparents-Gma Cindy and Gpa Jim, and my brother Freddy. THANK YOU ALL!
How have you been celebrating your victories?
I haven't really celebrated too much yet, but I am on spring break right now so hopefully I can get a chance to go out with some of my friends before I go back to school. I have just been so exhausted from the whole week that I haven't had the energy to really "celebrate." Although after my win on Tuesday night I went out for sushi with my brother Fred and my good friend Max.
What resort(s) do you do most of your riding and training at?
For pipe I mostly train at Copper Mountain because they have a 22' pipe. For slopestyle I train at my home mountain of Winter Park Resort. Occasionally our team (the Winter Park Snowboard Team) will go to Keystone or Breck to mix it up a little.
Tell us a little bit about your snowboard coaches? What are the sessions like and how often do you meet with them?
I have several coaches that I switch off with, but the main ones I work with are Mike Miller, Mike Branson, and Rich Nelson. I have such a tight relationship with them and I am so thankful for them. Sessions are usually pretty long but always an absolute blast. Mike Miller and Mike Branson are my slope style coaches and Rich Nelson is my pipe coach. Rich and I try to ride pipe at least once or twice a week, and we usually go from 10:00- 2:30 pm. When I'm not riding pipe with Rich, I'm riding slope with the Mikes! The sessions are always so much fun and so laid back, but when it's time to learn a new trick or stomp a line in the pipe we usually get pretty serious.
Do you listen to music when you ride and compete? If yes, what has been on your playlist lately?
Of course I listen to music. Lately when I snowboard I have been listening to The Chainsmokers. They are a super up beat funky artist that really gets me pumped up. I also have been listening to Fetty Wap, which is like a mellow rap. And on some days I listen to some other artists, it just generally depends on my mood.
What setup (board, boots & bindings) were you rocking this series?
This season I competed on the Micron Chill 140cm with Juno Hybrid bindings and Lunar Hybrid Coiler boots. I also ride a Velvet 140cm sometimes in practice and on powder days, but I really like the performance of the traditional camber profile on the Micron Chill, especially in the pipe.
What are you plans for the rest of this winter?
Well after Nationals my winter is basically over. The resort will still be open and I will definitely spend most of my days up there but I also want to hang with some friends and maybe find a way to go skate down in Denver or something. During the winter I am always training so my social life is practically gone, so now that Nationals is done I look forward to my social life.
Any plans for the off season? Are you chasing the snow, or taking some time off?
Hopefully I'll be making it up to Hood and Mammoth for some Spring and Summer training, but other than that I am going to skate a lot and go see my family in Kansas City, Missouri. I am looking forward to that!
Any advice that you'd like to give riders aspiring to start hitting the competition circuit?
It takes a lot of time to start getting the results you want and don't give up. I also learned this season to not let the judges affect the view that I have of my riding. Don't worry about what everyone else is doing for their runs. And lastly just have fun with it, so you don't lose interest in your riding.
Where was your best day on the hill this winter?
My best day on hill this winter was probably the day I competed at the US Open Womens Half Pipe Junior Jam. It was so cool to finally see what it's like competing in the big leagues. Being there with my good friends Payton and Isabella just made the experience a whole lot more fun.
Anything else that you'd like to say to the Flow readers out there?
Keep doing what you're doing and have fun with it!
Photo Credits: Vast Action Photography & Jay Silber