PUBLISHED: 12:12 PM on Wednesday, February 8, 2006
Sorenson rides the way for local snowboarders

Courtesy photo
  Chauncey Sorenson snowboards at Lake Tahoe, Calif. in Spring 2002.
Wherever there's snow, that's where you'll find Chauncey Sorenson.

"I started out skiing and a few years later snowboarding became the new thing," Sorenson said. "And I've been doing that ever since. That was 16 years ago."

When Sorenson moved with his family to Juneau from Montana in 1988, he took advantage of inexpensive skiing at Eaglecrest.

"People would ask me how I do things or why - and then I'd have to think about something I've always just done," he said.

"It makes you study and learn about your own moves and makes you a better rider."

During his senior year at Juneau Douglas High School he began teaching snowboard lessons.

"I really got into technique. Teaching improved my own riding as well as others' riding," Sorenson said.

Although today Sorenson teaches snowboarding and rides for his own pleasure, that wasn't always the case. He was encouraged by out-of-Juneau clinicians to take his skills south and compete in snowboarding events in the western United States.

"It really motivated me. Every kid dreams of becoming a professional athlete," Sorenson said.

Sorenson returned to his home state of Montana, where he placed in regional and state competitions.

He moved to Lake Tahoe the in 2002, and competed in only a few competitions.

He competed with about 125 other snowboarders in Tahoe and placed 23rd in slope style, where a rider goes through a series of jumps and other obstacles performing tricks along the way. He also placed 24th in half pipe, a snow structure that consists of opposing radial transition walls of the same height and size and used to catch air and perform tricks by traveling back and forth from wall to wall while moving.

"It was fun and I wanted to do it again," Sorenson said.

Participating in the Vans Triple Crown Sierra at Tahoe in March 2002, Sorenson competed against some of the best snowboarders in the country.

"It was right after the Olympics and the big pros were there," Sorenson said.

He placed 25th in the half-pipe and seventh in slope style. Sorenson is particularly proud of that competition, as he beat fellow professional snowboarder Shaun White by fractions of a point. White, who was the first athlete to compete in both the winter and summer of X Games.

"To compete with my idols and school them, that was a really good feeling for me," Sorenson said.

"I did really well the whole winter. It totally blew my mind. I thought I'd go to Tahoe and get put in my spot, but Alaska came to invade."

The grind of self-promotion to secure competition sponsors wore him down, Sorenson said, so he returned to Juneau for it's slower pace - and to groom the snow at Eaglecrest.

"As a kid, I always dreamed of having what places down south have to ride on. Now I have the opportunity to hopefully provide that to other people," Sorenson said.

"The level of skiing in this town is 50-60 percent above what is in the south. For the most part, people are intermediate to expert riders here."

Sorenson said once Eaglecrest is groomed for better snowboarding conditions, he would like to see a club form so he can coach snowboarders. He would eventually like to see Juneau hold sanctioned snowboard competitions.

"We've seen skiers do the same thing here, go off to the Olympics and other competitions. I'd like to see the same thing happen with the freestyle end, a new life in snow sports in general," Sorenson said.

"The main thing is getting future talent of snowboarders and skiers up to the mountain and hopefully we can provide what they need."

Sorenson said the support of his superiors and co-workers at Eaglecrest give him confidence that the park can continue to develop for snowboarders.

"It's going in the right direction, but I'm kind of a perfectionist," Sorenson said. "I'm psyched to have the ability to help and do what I can to make things better."

While Sorenson said he would like to focus on coaching, which he experienced in Montana.

"It's an immense amount of fun with a team. It seems like they learn a lot and when you coach and teach it makes you think more in depth. It shines a whole new light on what you do because you think about it more clearly," Sorenson said.

In the off-season, Sorenson said he works independently on graphic and video editing and custom car stereos.

"My hope is to do contract work to work on my own pace and be my own boss," Sorenson said.