Ending strong: Nevada Union snowboarders close season at nationals | TheUnion.com

Ending strong: Nevada Union snowboarders close season at nationals

When Nevada Union's Drew Bernadett joined the Miners' snowboard team as a freshman, it was for the physical education credits.

Now a senior and with her final prep season having just concluded, Bernadett is one of the most decorated riders in NU history.

"I did it freshman year to get rid of my PE credits, and I turned out to be good at it," Bernadett said. "I never expected it to take me this far, and the fact that it did is fantastic. It was just a blast to go in expecting nothing and come out with so much."

Bernadett capped her illustrious career at the USA Snowboard National competition hostd at Copper Mountain in Colorado.

The talented rider went up against the best prep riders in the country and placed second in the giant slalom, fifth in the slalom race and seventh in the bordercross event.

Traveling with and competing against Bernadett in Colorado was her close friend and teammate Celine Holland. Holland, a junior at Nevada Union, took first place in the giant slalom, sixth in the slalom and 12th in the bordercross event.

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Holland's impressive showing at the national competition is made all the more impressive by the fact she missed her entire sophomore season with an ACL injury that required surgery.

Nelly Steinhoff, a senior at Colfax, also competed, placing third in the giant slalom, first in the slalom and first in the bordercross event.

For Holland, her path toward the snowboarding elite started when she was 4 years old. By the age of 9, she was already racing.

And while Bernadett and Holland took different paths to the top, they have a similar approach to race day.

"When you're racing, you just have to let go," Holland said. "When you're in the gate, if you over-think it, then you're likely to make mistakes.

"We put a lot into it, but we don't rely on getting happiness from winning. There are a lot of kids that put a lot into it and expect to get first, and if they don't get first, they're super bummed about it, then it's not fun anymore."

Both Holland and Bernadett, said they have a laid-back, easy-going approach that relieves stress and allows them to compete at the height of their abilities.

"It makes it easier on us because we are able to let (the pressure) roll off," Bernadett said. "Some people cannot, and it impacts their riding, making their ride worse and their day worse. I literally just let it all go."

The impressive finishes at the national event were all that Bernadett could hope for in her final competition, she said.

"I'm really excited it ended the way it did," Bernadett said. "If I was going to lose to one person in the nation, I'm glad it was (Holland)."

Bernadett's fun-loving, goofy side came out on her final run, as she wrapped up her season with a penguin dive across the finish line.

"I couldn't have pictured it better than that," she said. "I was more concerned about my penguin slide than I was about the run."

With the season over and graduation nearing, Bernadett said she will take some time from the sport and attend Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, where she will study food science.

"Snow is very sparse there," she said. "So my riding will be limited."

Holland has high hopes for her senior year with goals set on taking first overall at the state competition and having another strong showing at the national competition.

Both Bernadett and Holland encourage more girls to join the team, citing that it's a unique and fun sport filled with lots of great people.

"I established so many killer relationships with interesting people, and that's just so cool," Bernadett said. "To have that sort of bond, not just through school, but through a common skill and sport, that's very unique."

To contact Sports Editor Walter Ford, call 530-477-4232 or email wford@theunion.com.

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