BY JEFF EVANS Californian staff writer firstname.lastname@example.org
David Anspach is fine with cruising down the mountain on his snowboard.
But he likes to take it to the extreme level.
Anspach, a 2007 Garces High graduate who's now a senior at Fresno State, will be competing today through Saturday at the U.S. Collegiate Ski and Snowboard Association National Championships at Sun Valley, Idaho.
"I hear the track we'll be on is three times as long as the one we're used to," said Anspach, 24. "This will be really fast and I hear there are a lot of jumps, which is exciting.
"It will make the better riders stand out and show who's at the best of their game. It will be more challenging."
Which is fine with Anspach, he said.
"The harder they make it, the better it is for me," said Anspach, who added his top speed has been 82 mph on his snowboard.
Anspach is making a return trip to the USCSA nationals. Last year at Sunday River, Maine, he was ninth in the snowboard cross, 15th in freestyle and 21st in giant slalom. This year he has qualified in those events, plus the half-pipe.
"David is definitely wild," said Ty Alexander, the Fresno State coach and founder of the university's competitive ski and snowboard team four years ago. "He gets upside down and spins with the best of them."
Alexander added: "David should be in the top-10 if he does well throughout the week. I know one of his ultimate goals is to be at an X-Games type deal or compete professionally at the national level. That takes time, effort and a little money."
Anspach said his best event is snowboard cross, which is also known as Boarder-X.
In that event, usually four snowboarders start simultaneously at the top of a run and race to reach the finish line first. It is called Snowboarder X at the X-Games.
"It's like a motorcycle track on snow," Anspach said. "You start on a steep hill. You're doing multiple turns, big rollers, a few jumps. You usually have to qualify first or second to advance.
"If one person falls, it can wipe out every person."
Most of this season, Anspach said his toughest competition in the event has been Gabe Mainz from the UC San Diego.
The two have trained together, Anspach said. "I have yet to beat him. I'm right on his tail," Anspach said.
"We're going to Idaho to take on the East Coasters and Sierra Nevada Reno colleges. We'd like to place in the top 10."
Competing isn't cheap.
Anspach said it was $400 to register at the beginning of the season and another $460 for registration fees for the nationals.
The flight, which Fresno State is paying for, is $700. Plus hotel and food costs.
The USCSA is not affiliated with the NCAA. And Fresno State's coed USCSA competitors are a competition team and not part of the recreation-based Fresno State Ski Club, Alexander said.
"This past year Fresno State backed us and we became an official cub sport on campus," said Alexander, who is also from Bakersfield. He graduated from West High in 2003 and played football at Bakersfield College before transferring to Fresno State.
"China Peak sponsored us this year and hooked us up with season passes," Alexander said.
Anspach said he prefers doing most of his training at Mammoth. "China Peak doesn't offer the big terrain we need for jumps or boarder cross," he said. "But it takes seven hours to go to Mammoth."
Anspach played football and soccer for Garces.
He moved to Mammoth Lakes after graduating and spent a lot of time on that mountain honing his skills.
"I was there a year-and-a-half," Anspach said. "I worked at the Canyon Lodge rental shop. I never liked the jumps, I liked the big mountain with powder and steep terrain. Then I started hitting jumps and I got good going off jumps."
He acknowledged an interest in advancing to the X-Games and professional levels after his collegiate career.
The USCSA is part of a the U.S. Ski and Snowboard Association (USSA).
"Our collegiate league is a smaller branch of that league," Anspach said. "In our league, you have to be in college. That separate league is for those trying to make it into the X-Games or Olympics."
Which is Anspach's goal, he said.
"I have to wait until I get to the next competition and see how I do," Anspach said. "It's a lot tougher league, but it's a goal I'm pushing for.
"Most of the guys on that level grow up on the mountain, live at the mountain and don't go to college."
This week's competition at Sun Valley should attract about 500 competitors, Anspach said.
Anspach said the East Coast and Rocky Mountain schools are traditionally the strongest.
"Competition-wise, they bring a lot to the table," he said "They get a lot more practice than we do. They live on the mountain."
Anspach is an agriculture business major and said his goal is to work in farming, possibly as a ranch manager, once his snow career ends.