Capital Christian Ski-Snowboarding Team Takes to Slopes

The team readies for its new season, as snowboarding grows more than ever.

This 17-year-old has some sage advice about life on the frozen slopes.

"Before you go on a ramp or rail, be sure you know what part you are jumping off of," the young snowboarder said.

Joshua Jain, a senior at , learned his lesson weeks ago when he apparently didn't realize the rail he was using for a snowboarding stunt had broken in the middle.

"Yeah, I crashed and pretty much landed on it."

Such is the education of those student-athletes, or student-skiers and student-boarders, on Capital Christian's Ski-Snowboard team. Jain is one of 15 members on the team that kicks off competition on Jan. 10.

Jain has been snowboarding for a couple years but this is his first year competing for the high school. It was a simple decision to compete, Jain explained, since practice includes trips up the slopes.

"I love snowboarding, so why not compete?" he said. "Plus, I get to go up to the snow twice a week, so that's great."

The team's coach, Brad Bates, is in his first year after helping out as a parent in past years for an obvious reason: he drives a Yukon XL SUV. Those things can package a lot of kids who need a ride to the snow and those school buses certainly aren't suited for snow driving.

Bates would help drive, then spend the rest of the time on the slopes.

"It broke my heart to help out," Bates joked.

Nowadays, as his youngest kid, Brandon, competes as a freshman on the ski-snowboarding team, pops was asked to strengthen his responsibilities.

"They needed help, and pretty much drafted me," Bates said.

The team competes at Sierra at Tahoe, Northstar and Heavenly. The league is made up of seven high school teams: Amador, Argonaut, El Dorado, Golden Sierra, Ponderosa, Union Mine and Capital Christian. Schools closer to the snow, such as Placerville's El Dorado High School, have as many as 100 members on the team.

Since Sacramento is a bit of a commute to the snow, the team practices every Saturday and has two "dry land" practices each week. It's certainly not as fun, consisting of an hour-and-a-half of running, leg strengthening and other core exercise.

"Conditioning down here is one thing," Jain said. "It's not like we're standing on snowboards [on] dry land – all we do is condition."

But none of the dry workouts prepare the students for life on frozen land.

"The first time I go up to the snow, my body aches in places I didn't even know I used," Jain said. "After getting up to the snow a few times though, the pain starts to recede. Coach always says nothing gets you in shape for skiing except for actual skiing."

Jain grew up a skier. So it's with accuracy and fondness that he recalls his early days of snowboarding. 

"I was on my butt all the time," he laughed.

He had to learn fast. This season, his first season with the team, he'll compete through gates – the markers that skiers and snowboarders go through during slalom or giant slalom races – for the first time.

Jain made the switch from skiing to snowboarding for the same reasons that 12 of the 15 members on Capital Christians team did.

"It seemed like the cool thing to do since everyone else did it," Jain said. "Snowboarding is relatively new compared to skiing. It's a new trend, plus I think it's more fun. I was up last Saturday in the line and you rarely see skis anymore. It's all snowboarders."

His coach has been a skier all of his life and remembers the days when snowboarding wasn't even allowed at certain resorts.

"I don't want to say skiing is dying, but everyone is snowboarding," Bates said. "I think it has to do with the social aspect of it. Shaun White is a megastar and these kids see him do stuff in the Olympics and the X-Games."

Jain admitted to jumping on that "Shaun White bandwagon." He's working on tricks and stunts as White does, but his competition for the school is in the same categories as the skiers: downhill, slalom and giant slalom.

He said he's a bit nervous about competing through gates for the first time, but said he'll get the hang of it.

At worst, he'll end up right back where he started: on his butt.


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