Of all the things Colby Laflamme takes from his victory in the skiercross national championships last weekend, the most important was this: His offseason work in the weight room helped him win as much as his performance on the course.
“I went a lot harder in the gym,” said Laflamme, 19, of Winthrop. “I was in there six days a week. My legs were stronger. My core was stronger.”
Laflamme took first place in the 19-and-over category at the national skiercross championships at Copper Mountain in Frisco, Colo., on Sunday.
“He’s a good all-around skier. He’s fast, and he has a good work ethic,” said Sean Keough, the director of the Maine Mountain Series, which sponsors skiercross and boardercross races across the state. “The work ethic is what separates those who succeed from those who don’t move on.”
Skiercross is a cousin to boardercross, and competitors race down a challenging course that features sharp turns and jumps.
The finals were done in a two-of-three format, meaning the first of the three skiers to win twice won the competition. Laflamme won the first two runs, beating Jonathan Ruhl of Ridgewood, N.J. and Brent Rice of Newbury Park, Calif., to win the title.
The Copper Mountain course is similar to the one Laflamme is used to racing at Sugarloaf. The course was shorter than last season’s, when Laflamme took fifth place, but shorter didn’t mean easier. Laflamme noted a series of hard turns near the top of the course that could make or break each skier’s run.
“You had to keep your line pretty much perfect to keep your speed,” Laflamme said.
Next season, Laflamme will move up in competition to the men’s open class.
“Next year,” Laflamme said, “I hope to have some sponsors.”
Skiercross is still a new sport, Keough said, and Laflamme has shown an aptitude for it. The next step is racing on the North American Cup circuit against tougher competition. The NorAm is a North American tour that is under the umbrella of the International Ski Federation.
“Getting on the NorAm and seeing how well he does with that, that’s next,” Keough said. “I knew he’d have success at some point. He’s progressing. He’s getting better.”