Practicing on a short slope for a national snowboarding tournament might not be ideal for those who compete at a high level, but Hampshire resident Clint Herman has always been up to the challenge.
Herman, a 16-year-old sophomore at Burlington Central, has snowboarded for 11 years at Raging Buffalo in Algonquin, where he trains on a 150-foot slope but still has won handfuls of medals in regional and national competitions.
In addition to the challenging dimensions, Herman is challenged by competing against older racers and said it has given him the motivation to push harder.
“The races are much smaller and faster, but the competition is still good,” Herman said.
In 2006, Herman reached the podium twice at the United States of America Snowboard Association National Tournament in Colorado, where he received second- and third-place medals in boardercross and slalom.
Eight years passed before Herman returned to the podium in April at Copper Mountain in Summit County, Colorado, bringing home a gold medal in boardercross.
Boardercross, which is Herman’s favorite event, is a snowboard race in which six competitors race downhill facing numerous winding turns and steep jumps.
He described his recent championship experience as “exhilarating.”
“It was just pure emotion,” Herman said. “It was everything I’ve been fighting for during the eight years I haven’t been on the podium.”
Herman, who began snowboarding at the age of 5, gained inspiration from his brother, Hayes, who he used to watch compete.
“He did it a year before I started,” Clint said. “It looked like fun and that’s when I took it up myself.”
Hayes won second place in last year’s national boardercross event in a different age group.
Annually, Herman snowboards in 20 different regional events and makes a trip to Colorado each spring, where he competes in the USASA nationals.
Clint’s father, Scott Herman, travels with Clint and the Raging Buffalo snowboarding team and serves as both a certified coach and technical supervisor. He spends time before each event preparing their snowboarders for competition. He said getting to watch Clint’s skills progress over the years has been special.
“[Clint’s] been snowboarding for 11 years, and he started on a plastic board from K-Mart,” Scott Herman said. “He’s progressed to the point where he’s on board-specific event snowboards. Going through all those stages means the world to me.”
This year, Raging Buffalo took 25 snowboarders out to Colorado and ended up with seven top-10 finishers. More than 1,600 athletes participated.
“I’d like to give a big kudos to Raging Buffalo,” Scott Herman said. “To have these kids do what they do and get to the level that they get on a 150-foot hill here in Algonquin is impressive.”
Even though Clint has snowboarded for more than a decade, he still feels the same nerves before competition. However, he explained that being a little nervous is his favorite part of competing.
“That’s what I love about it,” Clint said. “Every time you get into the gate before you start, you get that adrenaline going.”
His success has earned him national sponsorships, including Spy Optics, GoPro and Monster Energy.
In the future, Clint would love to become a professional snowboarder if an opportunity presented itself.
“It would take a lot of hard work and dedication to [go pro], but I feel like I’m on the right track,” Clint said.