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O’Connor captures sixth at Junior World Championships

By: Todd Mordhorst Journal Sports Editor
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Caty O’Connor may not have lived up to her own lofty expectations, but the Placer High graduate certainly caught the attention of the snowboarding world with her performance last week at the Junior World Snowboarding Championships in New Zealand. O’Connor finished sixth in the slopestyle event, making the finals and finishing as the top American at the prestigious event. “Caty’s always pretty hyper-critical of herself,”said Dylan Omlin, the Auburn Ski Club’s Snowboard Program Director. “But on that stage, it was not a disappointment at all. She qualified third for the finals and she just didn’t ride well enough in the finals.” O’Connor, who won three individual state snowboarding titles at Placer, put herself in good position for a potential Olympic team nod. Slopestyle has not been an Olympic event, but the Internationl Olympic Committee could decide sometime in the next year to include the event in the 2014 games. “From what I’m being told, it’s definitely close to happening,” Omlin said of slopestyle’s inclusion in the Olympics. “If it does become an Olympic event, Caty may be one of the kids picked to go into the fast track program for the team.” O’Connor returned to Auburn last week. She wasn’t thrilled with her performance, but considering the conditions, she could not complain. “It was definitely weird because I hadn’t ridden at all during the summer,” O’Connor said. “I got there on Aug. 6 (over two weeks prior to the competition), so I had some time to get back into it, but it was still hard. I just couldn’t land the run I wanted to in the final.” O’Connor said a couple of minor slip-ups in the finals cost her a spot on the podium. Omlin said O’Connor’s fearless attitude and physical gifts bode well for her future in the sport. “She’s got a lot going for her,” Omlin said. “She’s got the quickest feet of anybody I’ve ever come across. And she’s just not timid like the majority of the females I coach. She’s always the first girl to hit the big jump – sometimes the only one to hit it. She’s just not scared of anything.” The slopestyle event is not a race. Competitors perform tricks in the air, on rails and on boxes and are judged on style and the difficulty of their tricks. O’Connor said she plans to move to Truckee this winter, where she’ll train and compete on the U.S. Grand Prix series. She already has several equipment sponsors and has two more seasons to compete in the Junior class, which include riders age 19 and under. “I’m just going to see where I can take it while I’m still young,” O’Connor said.