Sophomores compete in national snowboarding event

Margot Carlson and Claudia Scherer

Two BSM snowboarders, Iris Pflum and Rose Bransford recently competed against snowboarders from all around the United States, Canada, Korea and many other unique countries in the FIS Nor-Am Circuit, an alpine racing competition in Colorado. Both of these sophomores student-athletes are continuing to work for their next competition goal of Junior Worlds that takes place the week after BSM’s spring break.

The competition consisted of about 30-40 athletes who snowboarded in two runs that determined the qualification into the finals; which included the 16 snowboarders with the fastest times. “The number one spot races the sixteenth, the second races the fifteenth, third races the fourteenth and so on. The person who wins each of these heats moves on, so it is set up like brackets,” Pflum said.

Both athletes are a part of the Hyland Hill G-team and have trained for a long time leading up to all competitions. They also practice during the summer and fall on dry-land. “For practice, we set up a course for either slalom or giant slalom. Then we just took laps on that course and our coach would tell us what to work and improve on,” Pflum said.

The two snowboarders have had to contribute long hours of practice, which resulted in missed class time, but they feel it’s worth it for the sport they love. “My favorite part of the sport is the thrill you get as you carve down the mountain and the sound of the board cutting through the snow; a huge part of why I snowboard though is my team. We all are so supportive of each other,” Pflum said.

Plum and Bransford started snowboarding before their teen years, age 9 and 11 respectively, and were both influenced by their older brothers. “When I was younger, I would go sledding with my brothers, and once I decided to stand up on the sled to see if I could do it. It took me a couple of tries, but I eventually got down the hill without falling, and I thought doing this for a sport would be so fun. So I decided to try it out, and I became obsessed with the sport and haven’t stopped talking about it since,” Bransford said.

Pflum agrees. “My older brother, who I have always been best friends with, started snowboarding. He taught me when I was nine, and I guess I just fell in love. I started on G-team at age ten and haven’t thought about leaving the sport since,” Pflum said.

Although it may seem too late to start the challenging sport of alpine snowboarding, Pflum and Bransford agree that anything is possible. From many years of practice and experience, the talented athletes both say that they have definitely learned valuable life lessons and have advice for anyone looking to pick up the sport. “Go big or go home. Just believe that nothing is impossible. Don’t doubt your abilities. Everything will fall into place as long as you set your mind to it. Never forget to have fun, with the sport and with whom you share it with,” Pflum said.

“Have a full send mentality, if you don’t give it your all you will not make it far, so might as well give every run 100% effort,” Bransford said.

Both Pflum and Bransford have had the opportunity to travel in and out of the USA to compete against other snowboarders, but also to create new relationships, memories and explore much more outside of Minnesota. “We have a few favorite memories from the trip. One of them was at the bottom of the hill, watching the other USA competitors and cheering them on with the rest of our team while periodically throwing snowballs at each other and other teammates. The other memory was off the hill, it was actually when we walked to Niagara Falls after a long training day, crossed over to Canada and did some sightseeing,” Pflum said.

As for the upcoming races, the next step for Pflum and Bransford is to qualify for Junior Worlds. If they qualify they will be within the top women alpine snowboarders of any age in the United States.