Auburn native and St. Dominic Academy student Sophia Brown proudly stands with her snowboard while displaying the medals that she’s won with it. Sun Journal Photo by Andree Kehn

AUBURN — Sophia Brown is a multifaceted sixth grader.

At St. Dominic Academy in Auburn, Brown is one of the few members of the school choir, plays violin and usually has the lead in the school theater productions.

Oh yeah, and she is heading to Frisco, Colorado, at the end of March (March 29-April 4) to compete at the United States of America Snowboard and Freeski Association national championships in the slalom, giant slalom and boardercross events.

Brown is ranked in the top-four in the Maine Mountain Series, the series of races that snowboarders go through at mountains like Sunday River — Brown’s home course — and Sugarloaf.

Every weekend, the 11 year old Auburn native will travel to her family’s house at Sunday River to sharpen her skills with Gould Academy’s training program. Since she was three years old, Brown has been snowboarding, beginning when her father, Justin, started training her. Very rarely has she taken a day off since.

“I think the program has 42-48 training days a year,” Justin Brown said. “It doesn’t matter if it’s minus-15 degrees, we are out there. They don’t get breaks for snow, for rain, they ride.”

Brown’s dedication has definitely paid off. As Sophia showed up for an interview, she pulled out close to a dozen medals from different races, mostly gold.

“I have more at home,” she said.

There was a competition at Sunday River earlier this year where Brown won four golds — two in giant slalom, two in slalom.

Her success in the Maine Mountain Series has helped her rankings climb nationally. Brown is 13th in the country in the 10-11 girls group in both the giant slalom and slalom events, while she’s 39th in boardercross.

Brown started competing in boardercross just last year after practicing on the course at Sunday River over and over.

“With the slalom races there’s a little bit less chance of falling, so I don’t really get that nervous, but with boardercross you never know what’s going to happen unless they allow you to inspect the course,” Brown said. “People will go down over and over again and sometimes it gets icy. You can fall, break bones, somebody might knock you over, or you could be super good at the course but at the very end someone trips you and you fall. You never know what’s going to happen. You can’t hold back because everyone is going full speed, so if you hold back then you won’t win.”

At Sunday River, the course has helped Brown tremendously.

“She had a couple falls,” Justin Brown said. “The professionals race the same course, so she’s not getting any kids course. She’s dealing with the same drops and jumps, it’s impressive.”

There is still a bit of trepidation in boardercross for Brown, but the other two events are second nature to her.

At Gould Academy, Brown and the other athletes are always on the mountain. While there aren’t plans to move to Gould for high school when the time comes, Brown is there almost every weekend to train. It doesn’t matter if it’s raining or snowing, her teammates and her are snowboarding.

“One time we went out and it was pouring rain,” Sophia Brown said. “It was going down so hard that only two other kids showed up, and the coach. We were soaked. All of a sudden it dropped 20 degrees and it started hailing and ice was everywhere. We kept riding, but eventually we had to go inside.”

“She rides 50-plus days a year and starts riding in November, and doesn’t really take a lot of days off,” Justin Brown said.

Sophia was invited to United States of America Snowboard and Freeski Association (USASA) nationals last year, but received the invitation unexpectedly just a week prior to the event. The invitation was too close to the start of the event and the Browns couldn’t find accommodations fast enough.

This year, however, she’s excited and ready. Brown is obviously excited to race, but she’s also happy she will be able to cheer on her usual opponents from Carrabassett Valley Academy.

“I am looking forward to everything because I love to race, it’s probably my favorite thing to do,” Brown said. “Also, I have friends that snowboard with me and I will get to cheer them on. I was talking to one of my friends and said, ‘It’s too bad that we go to rival schools.’ But when we go to nationals, it’s not school vs. school but Maine vs. the country. I’ll get to cheer on people that I know.”

During the warmer seasons, Brown plays softball, golf, and just really anything active. She also loves to paint, plays the violin and is a singer with a booming voice that earns her leads in the St. Dom’s theater.

“I am thinking of singing for the talent show. It’s not like I can snowboard,” Brown said, jokingly.

But once November comes, Brown is on the slopes somewhere in America. Her family has traveled to Utah and Colorado over the past few years to take on more-challenging slopes. There doesn’t seem to be a day off on Brown’s calendar until all the snow has melted. And Sophia is more than OK with that.

“One day she said, ‘Do you realize I never get a vacation?’ Because she gets up everyday at 7 a.m.,” Justin Brown said. “And I asked, ‘Would you want to change it?’ And she said, ‘No, I was just pointing out a fact.'”

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