Madeline Lochte-Bono made drastic changes to her life last fall with the hope of someday representing the United States at the world championships for snowboard cross. She didn’t expect her first opportunity to come so soon.
At only 16, Lochte-Bono moved away from her family in Durango to train full time in Silverthorne at the International Snowboard Training Center. She competed in the North American Cup (NorAm) for the first time this season against girls 15 and older and had success despite being one of the youngest competitors on the circuit.
Her commitment and results led her to be invited by U.S. Ski & Snowboard as one of six junior women for the 2019 International Ski Federation (FIS) Freestyle Ski and Snowboard Junior World Championships to be held March 25 through April 3 at the Prinoth Crosspark in Reiteralm, Austria.
“I am extremely excited to represent the U.S. in an international competition,” Lochte-Bono said. “I was not expecting an invite to junior worlds this year because it is my first year competing at the NorAm level. I am also one of the youngest athletes on the tour, which made the invite to junior worlds even more exciting.”
In her first year competing, Locthe-Bono’s best NorAm results came in New York, where she finished sixth and seventh in a pair of races. She also won the Revolution Tour event for riders 13 and older at Ski Cooper.
In snowboard cross, also known as boardercross, four to six snowboarders race down a narrow course that features a variety of terrain, including big jumps, berms and rollers as well as steep and flat sections. Contact with other riders is part of racing, and the first snowboarder to the bottom wins.
Though new to the NorAm Cup and FIS level of competition, Lochte-Bono is far from a novice. At age 14, she won the 2017 U.S. Snowboard and Freeski Association National Championships held at Copper Mountain. It was her second national title, as she also won in 2015.
With larger goals of winning international competitions, Locthe-Bono made the difficult decision to leave her family in Durango for seven months to train full time.
“With a snow sport, I have realized that to get the best training, I must follow the snow,” she said. “Silverthorne has gotten a ton of snow this season, which allows me to train on a snowboard cross course at Ski Cooper. When I am not training at Ski Cooper, I am at Breckenridge or Keystone training jumps.
“Leaving my family in Durango has been tough on me, but to progress in snowboard cross, I need to be able to train on a course with other athletes that push me.”
When Locthe-Bono, daughter of Ryan Bono and Amy Lochte, made the move in late September, she was still only 15. She returned home for a break around Christmas and will be back at the end of April once the season has ended.
“It felt like we were transitioning to college life at age 15,” Lochte said. “We text and FaceTime multiple times a day with her, but we all miss each other. Madeline is the oldest of four children and is very close to her siblings. Everyone has had to get used to her physical absence. Her dad had a difficult time adjusting to Madeline not being here to snowboard, bike or go to the gym with. I joke that one of her favorite hobbies is beating him at everything because she usually does.”
Lochte-Bono keeps up with schoolwork through Keystone Academy, an online program that allows her to work around her busy schedule, and she completes much of her work during the summer. At only 16, she has had to get used to shopping for her own food, driving to and from Denver International Airport for travel to competitions and navigating customs when she travels internationally.
The sacrifices have all been worth it, and she plans on returning to the same team next season.
“I have trained alongside many Olympians this season, and being able to watch how they ride and chase them down a snowboard cross course has pushed my riding abilities,” she said. “Repeatedly pushing myself out of my comfort zone has allowed my riding to increase a ton this year. Training with some of the world’s best riders has pushed me to make bigger goals each month to, hopefully, be one of the best someday.
“I train five days a week, and I have realized that I need to push myself on the days that I am tired and sore. Then, when I travel to competitions and I’m constantly tired due to time zones, then I know I can snowboard to the best of my ability because I train that way.”
Locthe-Bono hopes to perform to her best ability in Austria. She will be able to train March 30-31 before racing begins April 1. She has set the goal of finishing in the top 20. She’s also eager to indulge in the Austrian cuisine.
“I can go to junior worlds up to the age of 19, so I have a couple of years to work my way up in results,” she said.