Snowboarding: UMF’s Keough Claims National Title

Katie Keough doesn’t like to see her times after a snowboard run.

So when she had finished her first try on the giant slalom course last week at the United States Collegiate Ski and Snowboard Association (USCSA) National Championships, the University of Maine at Farmington junior had no idea how well she had done.

That was until she looked at her phone.

“I get my e-mail sent to my phone,” said Keough, a Cumberland native. “One of the UMF ski team members was back here in Maine and watching it on Live- Timing. He tagged me in a Facebook post. I opened the phone to look at my e-mail, and that’s how I found out I was seeded first.”

The post was wishing her well in the second run and stated that she was currently leading the pack.

Keough went on to win the event later that day. She added 17th place in the boardercross, a 20th in the slopestyle and 15th in the halfpipe.

“Winning was a surprise,” said Keough, who was fifth last year and eighth two years ago in the giant slalom. “I’d placed high the last couple years but finishing first was a real surprise. It was really nice to finally make the podium.”

Keough was recognized Wednesday by UMF. She was presented flowers and honored for her achievement at the school.

“It was unexpected but really cool,” said Keough. “It was really nice of them.”

Keough went into last week’s competition at Sun Valley, Idaho with some confidence. She was familiar with the event and had some success in past seasons. She’d done well this winter, so she felt a little momentum going her way.

“I had a really good season going into it,” said Keough. “So my expectations were just to stay focused and have really solid runs.

She had a great run in the giant slalom, finishing in 57.30. She led the field by half a second. Keough admits she’s a bit superstitious. She doesn’t like to see her time in that circumstance because it puts pressure on her for the second run.

So when she inadvertently discovered she was leading in the giant slalom, she tried not to let it mess with her concentration.

“There was a little bit of pressure just because I wanted to stay in first, but having a fast first run was pretty good,” she said.

She finished with an overall time of 1:51.6, edging out Kaylee Taylor from Loyola Marymount. Though Taylor had a faster second run, she finished with a two-run time of 1:52.

In the boardercross, she was eliminated in the first round by less than the length of a board.

“That was a little disappointing, but I had a pretty good run,” she said. “So I’m really stoked about that.”

She admits the slopestyle event isn’t her best and between rain and subsequent icy conditions, it didn’t help in her placing 20th overall. She had a good run in the halfpipe but still ended up 15th.

“It was a really great week,” said Keough. “I had a lot of fun. Sun Valley is a beautiful ski resort. I’d never been to someplace like that before. It was really cool, and it was really fun to compete against other athletes like that.”

Keough will compete in the Nationals for the United States of America Snowboard Association (USASA) next month in Copper Mountain, Colo. She’s hoping that her recent success might lead to greater opportunities in the future when she can devote more time to the sport.

“It definitely encourages me to do more,” said Keough, who is also preparing for the spring rugby season. “Because I’m a full-time student right now, before I do anything, I want to graduate. I have one more year left but after that I’m thinking about taking some time off and trying to race at a high level.”

By Kevin Mills

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