Christmas came a little early for Crowley Lake resident Kelly Berger. The young snowboarder, 15, competed earlier this week in the U.S. Snowboarding’s Revolution Tour kickoff event at Colorado’s Copper Mountain Dec. 19-20.
Berger narrowly missed the top 3 in Girls 13 and up, finishing 4th, but she was one of the top 3 American finishers in Halfpipe competition. The event included halfpipe skiing and snowboarding, and slopestyle competitions. The Revolution tour is part of the US Snowboard Team’s development pipeline for riders who want to make the U.S. Olympic team. Berger opted to focus on Halfpipe, which she prefers, and forego the Slopestyle competition.
Copper is known for its 22-foot pipe, which gives riders a lot of early-season practice.
How does Berger think she did? “The first contest of the season is always a little intimidating, but I think overall I was excited because I love competing,” Berger texted The Sheet while on the road home. “I’m really stoked about how I performed. I put down the run I wanted, so that’s always a good feeling.”
Never had a lesson …
None of Kelly’s snowboarding prowess surprises her mom, Susan. “Maybe it was a sign of early athletic ability, but when she was little, she rode a bike with no training wheels at 3 1/2 years old,” Susan recalled. “When she was in third and fourth grade, she’d always say she wanted to go to the Olympics and the X-Games!”
Her daughter, Susan added, “likes to win.” When she’s not riding her board, Berger plays volleyball. A Mammoth High School Sophomore enrolled in the Independent Learning Center, she was on the JV Volleyball team last year, and moved up to the Varsity squad this year.
Berger’s mom said she also doesn’t train hard during the summer, but by the time November rolls around, she’s itching to get back on her board.
Kelly started boarding when she was 8, and as her mom related, literally never had a lesson. “She got a board for Christmas, and wanted to try it out,” Susan remembered. “I took her to Chair 7 and said, ‘You know how to ski, you know the way down.’ One year later, she was riding on the Mammoth Snowboard Team.” Susan pointed out that then-coach Leigh Ann Battista noted Kelly was one of the best riders.
Berger is partial to Halfpipe, even though she’s technically champion in her age group in Slopestyle. She admires top world-class competitors, such as Kelly Clark and Gretchen Bleiler. “I think she’s one of those riders who makes it look almost effortless,” Susan opined. “Her coaches [including Mammoth Mountain Head Snowboard Coach Ben Wisner] say she has really good air awareness … she knows where her body is the air.”
Susan is convinced her daughter is “someone to watch … the U.S. team knows her, and she’s been invited to the Olympic Gold Camp,” which is another development ground for up-and-coming talent. “U.S. Snowboarding Team Head Coach Mike Jankowski basically told her, ‘Keep doing what you’re doing.’”
No worries about that, says Berger, who’s planning on doing the entire Revolution Tour, which next moves to Northstar at Lake Tahoe on Jan. 9, said she’s ready to ride. “This season is going to be a good one; I’ll be traveling a lot and doing some larger contests,” she wrote.
Berger, whose sponsors include Smith, Solomon, Bonfire Apparel and Wave Rave, also plans to compete in upcoming U.S. Grand Prix and Burton Pro-Am events. “As far as the Olympics go, that would definitely be the ultimate goal, so we’ll see how these next couple of years turn out,” she summarized.
Not bad for a kid who never had a lesson.