SKIER, SNOWBOARDERS PREPARE FOR NATIONALS
La Grande's Ford Hebard qualified for the United States Skiing Association's western region Junior Olympics in Montana.
The championships start Wednesday and conclude Sunday.
Hebard, an eighth-grader, skis as an independent racer. However, he trains and has competed for Anthony Lakes Ski Team as a mighty mite racer since he was 5.
He was chosen to the men's team in the Intermountain division for the Junior Olympics.
Hebard will compete in the slalom, giant slalom and super giant slalom events at the Big Sky area in Montana.
The championships are for alpine J3 age group racers for the 2002-03 season.
The event will attract downhill ski racers from the West Coast including Alaska. There are five regional teams comprised of the top 13- to 15-year-old ski racers from their respective geographic areas.
Male and female athletes must qualify with their performances in a number of races throughout the winter.
Snowboarders head to Maine
The lack of snow this winter in Eastern Oregon was a problem for two One Track Mind snowboarders.
But Nick Cornford and Kerry Gleasman found the snow at Mount Bachelor in Bend, where both competed in the "Enter the Dragon" series and qualified for the United States of America Snowboarding Association National Championships in Sunday River, Maine, March 24-30.
Cornford, 16, attends La Grande High School and is on the golf team.
Cornford started snowboarding when he was 10. He was watching snowboarding videos in the fourth grade with friends and decided to give it a try.
"It was fun," he said.
Cornford became hooked and learned his moves from those videos.
He finds the sport extremely rewarding.
"You are trying to push yourself and get better," he said. "It's something you do not stop progressing in, I guess."
He missed nationals last year because he was injured.
Cornford has been competing since the seventh grade.
His two difficult moves, McTwist and crippler 720, are hard to explain, he said.
The McTwist is an inverted 540-degree spin, while the crippler 720 is inverted and has more spinning in a different direction.
He'll be competing in the halfpipe. Gleasman will compete in the slope style and halfpipe.
Gleasman, 14, of Joseph has never been to Maine but she is excited to compete next week.
She began snowboarding when she was eight. Gleasman has been has been competing over the past three years.
Her two brothers snowboard for fun, and she thought to give it a whirl.
"They're still good," she said with a laugh.
"I watched and learned (from them), I guess," she said, laughing.
She learned a lot of the snowboarding techniques by herself.
"I don't know," she said about her reason for snowboarding. "It's exciting," she said with a laugh.
Joining them at the national competition is former One Track Mind member Ian Clark.
Clark, 19, is a friend of Cornford and a 2002 LHS graduate.
Clark said he was stoked when he learned that Cornford was going.
Clark is competing in the slope style. He attends the University of Montana-Missoula.
Clark competed in the "Enter the Dragon" series to qualify for the national competition.
"I was pretty happy when I found out (I qualified)," he said. "I wasn't sure I'd qualify but I did."
Clark has been snowboarding for five years.
He likes it because of "the aspect of fun. It's fun to be outdoors and do something with a creative outlet. Like you can get real creative with your style. It's really fun. You watch and see other people's stuff."
One "Enter the Dragon" race is held in January, February and March.
Each contestant has an hour or two to practice and has two runs. The best run is awarded points from 0-100.
On the Net:
To find a link to the national competition, go to: