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Grizz snowboard team heads to state with repeat potential

It may be a rebuilding year of sorts for the Ashland High snowboard team, but by Grizzly standards that may still equal some hardware at this week’s Oregon Interscholastic Snowboarding Association state meet at Mount Bachelor.

The annual winter season wrap-up event will feature snowboarders from throughout the state competing in the banked slalom, snowboard-cross, slopestyle and half-pipe events Thursday through Friday in Bend. Ashland, the defending boys state champion, will take 11 boys and five girls to Mount Bachelor. The AHS boys should again contend for a state title, while the girls didn’t qualify enough snowboarders to challenge for the big trophy but may return to Ashland with some individual ribbons.

The Grizz boys’ strongest riders are seniors Che Tratensek-Contor and Foster Thomas and junior Lars Filson. Tratensek-Contor and Thomas may likely represent Ashland’s best shot at a top-10 finish in the banked slalom and slopestyle, a judged event in which competitors ride down a course that includes rails and jumps. Last year, Tratensek-Contor placed sixth in a slopestyle field that boasted more than 80 snowboarders.

“He just exudes style and is just a great competitor,” Faurot said of Tratensek-Contor. “And he’s improved. He’s broadened his tricks on big-air.”

The slopestyle is Ashland’s best event as a whole, Faurot said, because the Grizzlies excel on the rails and get great lift on jumps. Every Ashland girl headed to Bend will compete for the Grizzlies in slopestyle: senior Mariposa Tratensek-Contor, the leader of the pack, freshman Haley Mullane, sophomore Mayla Sumner, sophomore Honora Johnson and junior Alyssa Moutsatson. Mariposa Tratensek-Contor, who goes by Posa, should challenge the best the state has to offer in the event.

“This is an event where Posa is really gunning for a top 10 finish,” Faurot said. “This would definitely be her strength. With Mount Ashland being open this year she’s had time to really regain her confidence on rail features and get back some of her mojo. Last season was difficult because she just didn’t have the time on the snow.”

Che Tratensek-Contor, Thomas, Filson, junior Malakai Davis, sophomore Zephyr Fox, sophomore Joviel Gallagher and freshman Vance Patterson will represent the Ashland boys in the banked slalom, while Mariposa Tratensek-Contor will lead the AHS girls in that event.

The top four runs from each school will make up its banked slalom team score. The AHS boys won the event last season, but three of the team’s top riders graduated so a repeat will be tough in 2015. Faurot added that Mariposa Tratensek-Contor is one of the best girls in the field.

“I would say a top-10 finish would be well within her sights and would be a great goal for her,” Faurot said, adding that the state’s top four female snowboarders all hail from the northern part of the state and may even be good enough to gain sponsorships in the near future. “Last year Posa finished in the top half and this year she has a much higher level of confidence.”

Filson was the only Grizzly to pre-qualify in the snowboard-cross race — this event also features jumps and drops down a steep course — but his teammates can join him by performing well in the banked slalom. The top 12 riders will join the 20 pre-qualifiers to form a field of 32.

Filson qualified by claiming the Southern League snowboard-cross title.

“(Filson) has that winning mentality, but when you get to this level there’s a lot more competition,” Faurot said. “The talent is a lot greater and luck comes into it. But I think (Filson) creates his own luck. He puts himself in good position.”

Mariposa Tratensek-Contor advanced to the second round of the girls snowboard-cross at last year’s state meet and hopes to go further this year.

“For her,” Faurot said, “making the finals is a realistic goal.”

Che Tratensek-Contor, sophomore Micah Bylsma, Gallagher, Patterson, Thomas and Filson will lead the Ashland boys in the halfpipe, and Mariposa Tratensek-Contor, Johnson and Sumner the AHS girls.

“The big surprise out of this group is Patterson,” Faurot said. “Prior to two weeks ago he had never really been in the halfpipe, but he actually recorded the highest air coming out of the pipe than anybody in the whole league. He’s a pole vaulter and he has a natural affinity for being in the air and took to the halfpipe really quickly.”

Overall, Faurot expects the Grizz boys to fare well in the halfpipe, a judged event, despite the fact that Mount Ashland doesn’t have a pipe to practice on.

“We have a trio of sophomores who are great skaters and they spend a lot of time at the skate park,” Faurot said, “so I think we’ll definitely put on a good show.”

Joe Zavala can be reached at 541-821-0829 or jzavala@dailytidings.com.