AHS snowboarders making progress

The Ashland High snowboarding team hopes the momentum gathered from strong performances in its opening two banked slalom events will carry into Sunday's slopestyle competition.

Seniors Ed Dickey and Julian Kurlan lead the boys squad, which took eight of the top 11 spots in the last banked slalom event.

The boys have won the Southern League title every year since the team's conception in 2000. The girls team has won the last six league championships.

Team founder and head coach Matt Faurot believes the sustained success can be chalked up to team unity.

"They're a really tight knit group of kids," Faurot said. Each year the freshmen coming in are willing to learn from these upper-classmen and its just an on-going cycle. They have that drive and desire to wanna be up here whenever they can."

Faurot said Dickey has been progressing throughout his career working toward the top of the pack. Now that he is a senior, Dickey has taken his game to the next level.

"This year he clearly kind of vaulted himself into the forefront and got a first and a third, which I was really pleased with," Faurot said. "He's been getting close over the years, but to see him come out on top was great."

Junior Noa Yates figures to lead Ashland in the slopestyle events. Yates placed third at the state high school snowboarding championships a year ago. Faurot said Yates has pushed himself to progress with his jumps this year and he expects Yates to put up another strong showing.

Another to watch for is Rodney McDaniel. Faurot has high praises for the freshman and expects big things from him in the future.

"He rides with the experience and skill of an upperclassman,"Faurot said. "He's definitely someone to watch for this season and the next coming seasons."

Former Ashland High and once-sponsored rider Clayton Mattson has joined the coaching staff this season and has contributed to the progression of the team.

"He's been a big help in talking the kids through some of their moves over table tops," Faurot said. "He's been a huge help."

Defending state half-pipe champion senior Becca Margulies leads Ashland's girls team and won both girls banked slalom events to open the season. Margulies doubles as a downhill mountain biker, which Faurot says has helped with her steady improvement on the board in recent years.

"She's pretty courageous and extremely fast," Faurot said. "And she's been improving by leaps and bounds in the slopestyle event."

Mimi Charter placed third in the half-pipe state championships last season and finished second in one of the banked slalom races this year. Faurot says she is getting better at spins and he expects her to succeed at slopestyle as well.

"She's someone who definitely has no fear and goes absolutely huge on our table top jumps," he said. "She's someone that I know will do really well this year in slopestyle."

Due to the recent inclement weather in the area, especially on Mt. Ashland, the team wasn't able to build proper jumps until earlier this week. Faurot said the team has been patient, but a lack of practice could affect the squad in the slopestyle on Sunday.

"The kids haven't had a whole lot of training," he said. "But now that the jumps are here, they're ready to learn and they're just having a great time. That's the one thing about this team that's really different than a lot of high school sports. They just have a lot of fun doing it and there's not a whole lot of pressure against each other when they're competing. It's a pretty laid back sport and its just a real joy to be involved with."

The Grizzlies take the Mount Ashland slopes at 10:30 a.m. Sunday for their first of two slopestyle events this season.

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