CARRABASSETT VALLEY – Carrabassett Valley Academy student Alex Tuttle, 15, grabbed a bronze medal in boardercross last week at the 16th annual United States of America Snowboard Association National Championship at Northstar, Lake Tahoe, Nev.
Two other CVA students – siblings Jaime Bisson, 18, and Benjamin Bisson, 14 – won third place for women’s and men’s overall combined alpine and freestyle, respectively, and their sister Juliette Bisson, 13, took sixth place in overall alpine. A CVA weekender, Emily Eames, won fourth in overall alpine.
It’s been a good winter for the academy. CVA grads seemed to come out of the woodwork at the February Winter Games. Seth Wescott, class of ’94, won the ski school’s first gold medal – in the new Olympic sport of snowboardcross.
Both Tuttle and the two Bisson sisters are relative newcomers to snowboarding. Jaime Bisson, a veteran ski racer, only picked up the sport this year, and said she went to the nationals to try her hand at racing, nothing more. Winning third in overall combined surprised her. “I was just there for the experience. I didn’t think I’d actually do well,” she said Thursday evening. “But I was an alpine ski racer for (a) long time, so that really helped me do well out there.”
Leaving the academy soon for a spate of college visits in southern New England, Jaime said she’s not sure how competitive snowboarding will figure into her future, if at all. “Right now I’m mostly planning on going to college. If I miss it, I’ll try to do something” with the sport, she said.
With a little more time to go before the “college, or competition” decision is in front of him, 15-year-old Alex Tuttle, just back from Tahoe, is already making plans for next year. “I’m probably not going to do too many more USASA” events, he said. Competitions like the North American championships feature fewer amateur competitors and are better training than the USASA events, he explained.
Tuttle said his experience in Tahoe was frustrating. After coming in first in all his heats until the final, he was pushed into a fall at the first gate. Still, he managed to come in third, and the snowboarder that pushed him was disqualified. “I’m disappointed because I didn’t win it, but happy how I did overall,” he said.
His mother, Kathy Tuttle, said she was “very proud of him,” regardless of his final race fall. She had a smile in her voice when describing the competition. “Every single one of his heats, he won,” and then “he got knocked down at the top.”
She said she enjoys watching his races, although “I really get sick to my stomach” watching the boardercross event. “It can be kind of dangerous,” she said. “I just stay at the bottom and hope for the best.”