Youngster takes off on snowboard
KENNEBUNKPORT — Aidan Mahoney, an avid snowboarder for two and a half years, competed in the USASA — United States of America Snowboard Association — National Championships from March 30 to April 9 in Copper Mountain, Colo.
“I like skateboarding, surfing and skiing so I thought I’d try snowboarding,” said Mahoney, 9, a fourth-grader at Consolidated School in Kennebunkport.
“One day on a family ski trip Aidan asked to rent a snowboard for the day,” his mother, Joy Mahoney, said. “You hear that snowboarding is hard to pick up. We were hoping that he would just be interested in one day of rental and a lesson and secretly hoped he would get frustrated. He hasn’t been skiing since,” she added with a laugh.
“Snowboarding feels really different from skiing,” said Mahoney. “It feels more like surfing.”
Mahoney started training on the weekends in Bethel at the Gould Academy Competitions Program.
The program is designed for youth skiers and riders ages 7 and older who want to push themselves to top-skill level. Mahoney, the youngest participant in the program, was trained by Gould instructors. Often times these instructors accompany the trained athletes to events.
“The older kids embraced Aidan and were really supportive,” said Joy.
Mahoney competes with the USASA at the state level; his placement in state events qualified him to compete at the national level as well. Over the course of the season Mahoney competed in 22 events in Maine, and he medaled in all of them, meaning he came in first, second or third place.
To qualify for nationals Mahoney had to compete in six events, four times in the Maine Mountain Series: Slope Style, Half-pipe, Border Cross, Rail Jam, Slalom and Giant Slalom. Points are tallied for each competitor. Mahoney not only qualified for nationals, he was also awarded third place in the 2013 Rider of the Year competition out of all snowboarders ages 6 to 70.
At Copper Mountain Mahoney competed against 40 kids in each event.
“I was kind of nervous at the first race, but then I got used to it,” Mahoney said with a shrug.
Mahoney competed in events for five consecutive days. “It was really tough,” he said.
“Some of the kids there train like professionals,” said Joy. “They’re home-schooled and snowboarding is their main focus.”
Mahoney doesn’t plan to take that route. Since he returned from his 10-day trip to nationals he has started baseball practice.
When asked if he wants to strive for nationals next year, Mahoney nodded his head emphatically and replied, “Yes.”
“It was a really good thing for him,” said Joy. “I think it’s helped with his self-confi- dence a lot. And I think his teachers and friends have noticed.”
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