Local sibling snowboarders hit the hill at Copper Mountain, come home winners
by Randy Capitani
Apr 20, 2017 | 3712 views | 0 0 comments | 134 134 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Griffin and Grace MacFadyen
Grace and Griffin MacFadyen
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DOVER- Siblings Griffin and Grace MacFadyen are typical teens. They go to high school, spend their evenings on homework, hang out with their friends, and get into arguments over things like who’s wearing whose socks.

But one thing that sets them apart from many of their peers is that both are top snowboarders in their respective events, and have just returned from Copper Mountain, CO, with top-15 finishes at the United States of America Snowboard and Freeski Association national championships.

Grace MacFadyen, 16, competed in the slalom and giant slalom snowboard races for riders ages 16-17, finishing 10th in the slalom and seventh in the GS.

“My goal was to make top-10 both times,” said Grace. “Next year, I’ll be at the top of my age group, so I hope to do even better.”

Grace is a junior at Burr & Burton Academy in Manchester, where competing with the school’s dance team is her first love. In fact, while snowboarding is in her background, it hasn’t always been something that sparked her competitive fires.

“I started as a skier when I was younger,” said Grace, “and I went to the nationals for two years. Then I competed for three years as a snowboarder.”

But Grace dropped competitive snow sports when the family moved to Vermont four years ago. She said the competition was more difficult than in West Virginia, where the family skied while living in Maryland.

“I picked it back up last year,” said Grace. “I’ve always done it for fun. But my main focus is dance, so I didn’t have much time to train for snowboarding.”

Parents Don and Donna MacFadyen brought the family to Dover in part so the children could have more opportunities for snowboarding. They were attracted by Mount Snow’s Carinthia Parks, Dover School, and the school choice options for students once they left Dover School.

Griffin MacFadyen is no stranger to podium finishes. He has been a top snowboarder since he began competing. In 2014, he won the USASA national championships for his age in both halfpipe and slopestyle, and in 2015 he won again in the halfpipe.

Now Griffin competes only in the slopestyle competition, which requires riders to complete a series of jumps and obstacles while riding down a trail. They are scored on a variety of factors, including style points for their jumps and spins.

Griffin, 14, competed in the open class against older teens and adults. He was the youngest rider in the competition, according to his mother.

“He was the only one who didn’t have a driver’s license or a beard,” joked Donna MacFadyen.

At the nationals, Griffin made the top 15 finalists, finishing 13th. That qualifies him to compete in next season’s Revolution Tour, more widely known as the Rev tour. It’s another step in the developmental process that could lead to the X Games, the Dew Tour or perhaps even the Olympics.

“My goal was to get a place in the finals at nationals,” said Griffin. “I finished 13th out of 73 competitors, made the finals, and got a spot for next year’s Rev tour events. Now I’m already prequalified.”

Griffin is a ninth-grader at Stratton Mountain School, which is known for grooming top winter sports athletes. As a case in point, last summer Griffin went to train in Australia with his mom, sister, and coaches from SMS. One of those coaches was 2002 Olympic gold medalist Ross Powers, a graduate of SMS.

Griffin has a busy summer planned already, with two weeks of training at Mammoth Mountain in California, and another trip to Australia this summer. He hopes to ride in some competitions while Down Under, and hopes he can score some points in the World Snowboard Tour.

Despite riding around the world, Griffin still considers Mount Snow his home mountain. “The park at Mount Snow (Carinthia) is really good,” he said.

As for the recently-completed USASA finals, the siblings accomplished another first. Because Grace rode as an independent this year, she didn’t have a coach. So Griffin stepped up to coach his older sister.

“He was waxing my board for me and giving me tips,” said Grace.

“And, they didn’t fight at all,” said Donna, adding with a laugh, “That’s a totally false statement.”

No, it’s normal. Just like any other teenage brother and sister.
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