She can pinpoint the moment. The exact time when her stomach knots, her mouth goes dry, her eyes take in the course and anxiety spreads throughout her body.
As the gate official calls her name to step forward, Drew Kremple admits that instance is when her nerves peak. But a funny thing happens once she actually steps into the gate – her mind clears, her body relaxes and she flies down the hill without a thought in her mind.
This is a routine the Nevada Union senior snowboarder has experienced race after race, but will enjoy only for only a precious few more races. Today marks the fourth consecutive year Kremple qualified for the California- Nevada Interscholastic Ski and Snowboard Federation State Meet at Mammoth Mountain.
And after her slalom race this afternoon and giant slalom race Thursday, Kremple will most likely hang up her bindings in terms of competitive snowboard racing. Thus encouraging her to make her final few races quite memorable.
“I’m still debating on whether or not I want to go all out or if I just want to finish with standup runs,” Kremple said. “I want to make this year count and go out on top.”
While Kremple has a history of dominating races in the Central II Division, her memories at state haven’t quite lived up to her expectations. Her first year she finished in the top 20 – a good finish for a freshman.
Her sophomore year looked to be extremely promising as she finished sixth in giant slalom, but was faced with a questionable gate keeping call.
“I slipped around a gate and if you don’t go around the skinny side you have to hike back up and you can’t continue until the judges say you’re clear,” Kremple said. “One said I was clear and the other said later I wasn’t so I had to hike back up again. So I ended up finishing in the teens somewhere.”
Last year at state, Kremple began with a disqualification in the giant slalom and admitting she was feeling pretty down, went on to finish just 16th in the slalom.
Kremple enters the giant slalom event as the No. 1 racer from the Central II Division and No. 3 in the slalom. Each racer competes in three slalom and three giant slalom division races, with the best two counting for state.
“If Drew takes clean runs this year she’ll be a strong contender,” Nevada Union coach Samson Smith said. “With four standup runs she’ll certainly bring back some hardware.”
In her blood
To say Kremple is comfortable on a ski slope is quite the understatement. She began skiing with her mom, dad and older brother Joe at a young age. But when Joe switched to snowboarding in seventh grade, Drew was in fourth grade at the time, the rest of the family followed suit.
Since that time the family has spent the majority of the winter months in the Tahoe/Truckee area taking on the hills.
Once in high school, Joe joined the newly formed snowboarding team, so when Drew became a freshman she enthusiastically followed his lead.
“Freshman year was probably the most fun I’ve ever had snowboarding,” Drew said. “Joe was a senior and it was so fun for Doug (Potter) and I because we could keep up with the older kids. Since then Doug and I have really stuck together and helped each other along the way.”
Because the girls race first, Kremple often calls Potter from the bottom of the hill to give him course updates, while Potter is almost always at the start gate for the beginning of Kremple’s race to offer encouragement.
When Kremple began her high school athletic career she was a three-sport athlete. Her freshman year she played volleyball, then snowboarded and made the varsity soccer team in spring. But during the soccer season she fractured the ball of her foot.
Her sophomore year she was able to play volleyball and snowboard, but sat out the soccer season. By her junior year she decided to give up volleyball and focus on snowboarding. That spring, however, she decided to try out for the soccer team again.
After two weeks of tryouts, her foot just couldn’t handle the stress. She was forced to have surgery this past May to take a small bone out of her foot. But Kremple didn’t exactly sit around resting.
This past September she took part in the 11th Annual Barbara Schmidt Millar Celebration of Life Triathlon, an event very near and dear to her family. Kremple swam half a mile, biked for 11 and finished by running three miles in one hour, 46 minutes and 39.75 seconds.
“Snowboarding doesn’t stress it as much because there isn’t that constant pounding like in soccer or volleyball,” Kremple said.
“I’m definitely glad that I can still snowboard.”
To contact sports writer Stacy Hicklin, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or call 477-4244.
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