Durango is home to national champions in a wide variety of sports. Add boardercross to the growing list.
Madeline Lochte-Bono, a 14-year-old from Durango, claimed the gold medal at the United States of America Snowboard and Freeski Association National Championships on April 5 at Copper Mountain.
It was the second boardercross national title for Lochte-Bono. She also won in 2015.
Boardercross is a snowboard race in which contestants line up together and race each other down a slope with banked turns, jumps, berms, rollers, drops and sections of flat and steep terrain. The courses are generally narrow, bringing contact with competitors into play. The event, called “Snowboard Cross” by the International Ski Federation, has been an Olympic sport since 2006.
“I like speed,” Lochte-Bono said. “I have competed in half pipe and slopestyle. I still also compete in slalom and giant slalom but loved the speed and excitement of boardercross from my very first race.”
Lochte-Bono began competing when she was 9. She has participated in nationals five times and took second in her first year in 2013. In 2014 and 2016, she was taken out by another racer who fell and placed fifth both times.
This year, Lochte-Bono was first out of the start gate and ran a smooth race to finish first in 1 minute, 3.53 seconds. Zoe Bacca of Ketchum, Idaho, was second in 1:05.15. Courtney Rymmel of West Bend, Wisconsin, was third in 1:05.78.
Lochte-Bono said she was motivated to deliver a gold medal to her coach, Brian Boland, who celebrated his birthday the day of her race. She told him she would deliver his present, and she was true to her word.
“When the gate dropped, I was in the lead,” she said. “I told myself that as long as I stayed on my feet, I would win the race. I felt this leap of joy come up my spine. I couldn’t wait for Brian to get down so I could tell him I got his birthday wish.”
The young athlete suffered a knee injury last year and had surgery last summer. She still was able to compete quite a bit this season, and the national title was the perfect way to end it.
Though Purgatory Resort doesn’t have a boardercross course, she said he still enjoys training there, especially on Upper Hades with its rollers and natural bank turns. She also trains at Telluride Ski Resort.
She hopes to be a World Cup athlete some day and is anxious to hit the Nor-Am Tour when she is old enough.
“Boardercross is my passion,” she said. “I love the speed and excitement of racing with people on a course. You never know what the outcome is going to be.
“Every time I stand at the top of the course, I get butterflies in my stomach. I have learned to take my butterflies and use them during the race. The harder I work, the less butterflies I have.”
Rail jamDurango also was represented at USASA Nationals by freeskier athletes.
Logan Fullington placed 10th in the 14-and-over rail jam with 1,000 points. Chace Maytham of Basalt won with 1,660 points.
Emmett Stottlemyer also took 13th in the 14-and-over rail jam with 880 points.
Dylan Fullington placed 24th in the rail jam for skiers age 10-13. He scored 515 points. That age group was won by Konnor Ralph of Helena, Montana, as he scored 1,690 points.