Saturday February 2, 2013

DOVER -- Snowboard student Max Lyons from the Mount Snow Academy dazzled judges with an assortment of tricks at a rail jam last weekend.

"It was both our first time at the X Games," said Academy coach Tommy Anderson. "We were both awestruck by the whole thing."

On Saturday, Lyons competed in the 2013 United States of America Snowboard Association Rail Jam at the Winter X Games 17, at Buttermilk Mountain in Aspen, Colo.

Out of 30 other male snowboarders, Lions made the finals, which means he made the top 8.

This was part of an amateur contest series that USASA holds throughout the winter.

To qualify for the event, Lyons had received the highest overall score for his age group, which was 14 and up, in rail jams during the USASA Southern Vermont Series. He is 17 years old and this will be his third year at the Mount Snow Academy.

On Friday, Lyons and Anderson went to watch the professional rail jam in the afternoon. It was the same course that Lyons would be competing on the next day.

"Max and I went up there to watch that and see what the course looked like," said Anderson. "It looked extremely urban, with dangerous features to it."

There were big gaps, with rails that closed out, which means if the competitor falls off early, it will most likely end up in a crash.

"The consequences were big," said Anderson. "It gave him a good idea of what to do and where to do it."

The competition had lots of talented skiers and snowboarders. Anderson told the Reformer that some of the contestants could have been in the professional rail jam because their skills were so good.

"The finals for the USASA Rail Jam had a level and energy that I honestly think was higher than the pro rail jam," he said. "People were putting their bodies on the line and some paid the price. Some had really close experiences to having serious consequences."

Mikaela Casey, whom Anderson had previously coached at the Mount Snow Academy, won the girls division of the USASA rail jam.

Cody Ellison, another Mount Snow Academy alumnus present at the rail jam, made the finals along with Lyons.

"It was really huge to snowboard with a bunch of people," said Lyons. "To ride with each other, one up each other and learn a bunch of new tricks."

Lyons isn’t taking time off anytime soon. He’s still got two more slopestyle events, four half-pipe events, and one more rail jam, which are all a part of the USASA series he has been a part of this year.

"If I do well enough," Lyons said, "I will get invited to the USASA finals in Copper (Colo.)."

Anderson has been happy with Lyons’ success and encourages him to continue on the same path.

"Max did the tricks he needed to do to qualify," said Anderson. "When they announced his name in the finals, I was pumped."

Lyons broke his snowboard on the first run of his qualifying rounds. He had to use Anderson’s board for the rest of the event. By the end of the event he had broken Anderson’s board, too.

Besides the competition, Lyons along with Anderson were able to experience the X Games as spectators as well. They took some time out to look at the other courses and events, before returning to Dover.

"The big jumps on the courses looked like skyscrapers," said Anderson. "The half-pipe was gi-normous!"

Two nights before leaving for the trip to Colorado, Lyons had gotten a new sponsor, Rome Snowboards.

"I think Max realizes the aspects of his riding that need to be improved just by being in a venue like that," said Anderson. "It was so massive and there was great consequence."

For videos from the event and more information on the Mount Snow Academy, like their page on Facebook.

Chris Mays can be reached at 802-254-2311, ext. 273, or cmays@reformer.com. Follow Chris on Twitter @CMaysReformer.