Rising star returns | SierraSun.com

Rising star returns

Sylas Wright
Sierra Sun

Courtesy Ed Herbold / edherbold.comKimmy Fasani boosts over a tabletop at Mammoth Mountain last April. Fasani, a 2002 Truckee High grad, is in town to compete in the fourth annual Vans Cup this weekend.

Kimmy Fasani is nearing the end of a breakout season as a professional snowboarder. A podium-worthy performance in her hometown contest would make it that much sweeter.

“I’m very much looking forward to it,” Fasani said of the Vans Cup slopestyle competition. “The last two years have been rough for me. I haven’t had a lot of luck.”

She’ll have a shot at avenging her disappointing past results Saturday when the fourth annual event ” touted by organizers as the “West Coast’s biggest snowboard contest” ” descends on the slopes of Northstar-at-Tahoe.

Featuring a large field of the sport’s most talented athletes, both locally and from across the globe, the Vans Cup kicks off with an evening rail jam Friday, followed by a slopestyle contest Saturday and superpipe Sunday.

Fasani, a 2002 Truckee High grad, hopes to ride the momentum from her scintillating season to a quality finish in the slopestyle, which remains her forte in competition.

While the 23-year-old pro and former Northstar Snowboard Team member has experienced success in the sport, it wasn’t until this past year that the industry began to take notice.

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The first major sign caught Fasani by surprise.

One day at her Mammoth home this past fall, she received a ballot for the 9th Annual Transworld Snowboarding Rider’s Poll. Under the “Women’s Rookie of the Year” category, Fasani’s name appeared in the top-5.

A month and half later, in December, Transworld announced the top-3 for each of the nine categories. Again, Fasani’s name appeared, this time accompanied only by Desiree Melancon’s and Spencer O’Brien’s.

“When I saw my name on that I was shocked,” she said. “It was such an honor to be nominated.”

On Jan. 31, Transworld announced O’Brien as the winner. Nevertheless, Fasani said she felt honored to be a front-runner for such an award, which is based on standout performances in a year.

“I had never been a standout,” she explained about her rookie status, despite riding professionally for several years. “I’ve worked my way up the ladder, but I had never stood out above others.”

Until recently.

“I feel like it has taken me a long time to be riding where I want to be, and I still have a long way to go, but I’m glad people are recognizing that I’m a strong athlete,” she said. “Last season I had a lot of changes take place.”

The biggest change came when Fasani switched from Burton Snowboards to DC in January 2007. Although Fasani said Burton was a great sponsor, and she would never wish any ill will on the company, she felt like the swap boosted her career.

“They took me in under their wing,” Fasani said of DC, the same company for which Truckee snowboarder Chas Guldemond rides. “I just felt so much support.”

With Burton “there was so much stress involved with the sponsorship,” she continued, explaining that Burton was more contest-oriented than DC, a footwear and apparel company that had just started making snowboards when Fasani and Guldemond joined. “I had a couple people comment on how happy I seemed (after switching sponsors). I just had so much more freedom. It really helped my confidence.”

It also helped touring with the brand new DC team, which was made up of all men except for Fasani the first year.

Guldemond, an East Coast native who moved to Truckee in 2006, said he was impressed with the ability of the team’s only woman rider.

“She steps it up for the girls, for sure, which is really good,” said Guldemond, who also will represent DC at the Vans Cup. “She’s down to have a good time and push it. She’s super motivated to push the sport, and she goes big, for sure.”

Come Saturday, Fasani will be putting those big-air skills to the test against some of the best competition in the business. She can hardly wait.

Friday

5-6:45 p.m., rail jam-

Saturday

8:30 a.m.-11:30 a.m., men’s and women’s slopestyle qualifying

11:30 a.m.-3 p.m., men’s and women’s slopestyle finals

Sunday

9 a.m.-noon, men’s and women’s superpipe qualifying – – – – – – – –

12:30 p.m.-4 p.m., men’s and Women’s superpipe finals