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Indian Head teen to compete in national snowboarding event

An Indian Head teen is making her third appearance in the National Snowboarding Championships at Copper Mountain Resort in Colorado.

Shannon Branthoover, 13, has competed in snowboarding competitions for the past three years.

Each year, she has been invited by the United States of America Snowboarding Association to participate in the national championships.

"Shannon going to nationals for the third year must be very exciting for her," said Joel Rerko, director of action sports for Seven Springs Mountain Resort. "It takes a lot of commitment and skill to consistently be invited to such a large event."

This year's national event will be today-Friday.

Branthoover will represent the Appalachian Series of the USASA in five snowboarding disciplines. The weeklong competition will include events in the categories of halfpipe, slopestyle, boardercross, giant slalom and slalom.

The Appalachian Series includes resorts in Pennsylvania, Maryland, West Virginia and Virginia.

Branthoover is ranked in the top 10 in the nation in the "Breaker" Division for girls ages 12-13.

"Shannon could be one of the next big names in female snowboarding if she stays committed to progressing in the sport," Rerko said.

Branthoover started skiing at age 3. When she was 7, her parents registered her for snowboarding lessons, and she's remained dedicated to the sport.

"I think the opportunity for her to compete creates life lessons for her to learn," Shannon's father, Jeff Branthoover, said. "She's learning how to focus on one thing to get better, sportsmanship and discipline

Branthoover said she spends all year training for the national competition. Last year, she worked with a coach, but this year, she said she has been working with her father.

"I just free ride a lot more. I go out every other day in the week for about two to three hours a day at Seven Springs," she said. "I pick one individual thing to work on each night until I get it down."

Rerko has known Branthoover for about three years and said he has seen her snowboarding skills grow.

"It's refreshing to see the commitment and love she has for the sport," he said. "Shannon has been competing against females well past her age group since I met her and always places in the top three, if not taking home the victory."

Rerko said he believes having Seven Springs in her backyard has helped Branthoover train for the events and compete at a high level.

Shannon's mother, Robin Branthoover, said the family travels almost every weekend in the season for competitions and often drives as far away as Virginia and Vermont.

Robin Branthoover is proud that her daughter, a seventh grader at Connellsville Junior High East, has achieved so much.

In addition to snowboarding, Shannon Branthoover also is involved in gymnastics, skateboarding, swimming and basketball.

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