Eric Newman Sunsports Editor
“Are you a snowboarder from Arizona?” Really? “
Lori Averard asks that question all the time. The 20-year-old from Flagstaff has been on the professional snowboard tour for the last few years.
She rides and competes with the best in the world and is ranked 24th in the world and 6th in the US according to the FIS Snowboard World Cup Rankings.
Yet, even when successful, she sometimes has to defend her homeland from competitors.
“Funny, I get more questions like, ‘How did you get here from Arizona?’ more often than you think.” I have to tell them I’m snowboarding,” Averer said with a laugh.
It’s been a long journey to get here.
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As a child, she played several sports. Lori’s father, Randy Abelard, remembers her as an extraordinary athlete, succeeding in nearly everything she tried.
“I think she started riding a bike around the age of two. Then she was a gymnast and won a state championship at that age. Then she took up diving and became good at it. Everything she did was great,” he said.
Lori started snowboarding as a hobby in her hometown and started competing seriously when she was around 10 years old. That means contests in the local and neighboring states. At the age of 12, she was invited to compete in the United States Snowboard Association (USASA) national competition. She then won the USASA title at age 16.
But getting to the next level required more experience and training than Flagstaff could offer.
At age 16, Lori moved to Colorado to train with some of the best players in the country. She participated in her US Revolution Tour, which consisted of many of her top teen snowboarders from the United States and Canada.
“The hardest part was leaving my family,” Lori said. in this way. ”
“It was really hard for my daughter to leave home at 16,” Randi added. “But that’s what she wanted to do and that’s what she loves. So we were very supportive of her and her host family was amazing. She has that goal.” I was chasing after.”
Lori had two good friends and a host family living with her, so the transition was easy. But despite some initial difficulties, Lori was largely unperturbed to go home.
“In the back of my mind, I knew I could always come back to Flagstaff, but you can’t always live and train in Colorado and have this opportunity,” she said.
Then the real work began. I train five days a week, eventually join the True Snowboard team, take online high school, and almost every day off I go on the Revolution Tour with friends and others to stay in top form. . And there was constant competition going on, traveling all over the world for riding.
In the 2021-22 season, Lori placed 5th on the Revolution Tour, furthering his interaction with the best snowboarders in the world at the professional level.
It seemed like a really happy existence, especially to Lori’s friends outside the snowboarding community.
But that was before they knew about some of the interruptions that literally make life on tour difficult.
True Snowboard coach Chris Waker broke his neck during the 2020-21 season, apparently due to COVID-19. He could never ride the same ride twice, and that took a toll on his coaching.
And on April 8, 2021, teammate Eli McDermott committed suicide. His death hit the team hard and many were unsure how to react.
Lori still gets emotional when she thinks about it.
“I had to run away for a bit,” she said.
Lori moved to Hawaii for the summer, had a summer job on the North Shore, and hadn’t thought about snow or snowboarding for a few months. She admits to thinking a little whether her competitive snowboarding is still in her future.
“I feel like a lot of people come up to me and say, ‘You’ve been snowboarding all the time and have a great life.’ And yes, I love that. But I don’t want to do it.’Do something else,’ she said. “But given what’s happened so far and the effort it takes, it’s not like everyone thinks. It could be really hard.”
Still, in October of that year, Lori said she wanted to return to her family. Randy said her family agreed on the condition that Lori not return to the same location on Copper Mountain and head to the park instead. City, Utah has a similar reputation as he is one of the nation’s premier winter sports scenes.
She’s been competitive ever since, but often returns to Hawaii after spending short periods at her home in Flagstaff during the offseason.
Lori finished second in the slopestyle competition at the USASA National Championships in Frisco, Colorado on April 6 this year. This is just one of the many podium finishes she has achieved over the past few years.
More importantly, her love of snowboarding continues to grow.
“I like to push myself, I like to always challenge myself, and even though I’ve gotten this far in snowboarding, there’s always something I can do and achieve,” said Lori. “And snowboarding has taken me to so many cool places and helped me meet so many cool people. I really appreciate what snowboarding has brought me. .”
The latest season is over and Lori plans to return home to Flagstaff for a while before traveling and eventually returning to riding as next winter approaches.
In addition to competing, Rori plans to make snowboarding videos. They include running in the mountains, but also potentially on city streets and benches, or anywhere you can jump and dismount.
And, of course, she wants to keep climbing the rankings, too.
“I just want to keep trying new things and see where it takes me,” Lori said.