By Evan Mugford
---- — BRECKENRIDGE, Colo. – For Seabrook’s snowboarding magician Scotty Lago, the idiom ‘tricks of the trade’ is unquestionably apt.
Whether he’s spinning nearly 20 feet above the lip of a half-pipe or teaching his 1-year-old Jack Russell, Camo, how to crawl across the floor, the 25-year-old and 2010 Winter Olympic Games bronze-medalist has made a living methodizing skills and manufacturing thrills.
Over the weekend Lago competed in the half-pipe event at the 2013 Sprint U.S Grand Prix at Colorado’s Copper Mountain. After a strong first heat (score of 90.0) in the qualifying round on Thursday morning, Lago ended up placing 15th in part to some technical difficulty.
“It could have gone better. I ended up falling in both of my runs,” said Lago. “Unfortunately, I had a broken board and I didn’t really recognize it until after the contest. But that happens from time to time, so it’s all gravy.”
Taking the top three spots included Australia’s Nathan Johnstone (first; 94.75), and Americans Louie Vito (third; 86.75) and Luke Mitrani (second; 92.75); the latter being a comrade of Lago and a fellow member of the Friends Crew – a team of athletes and headphone connoisseurs that also includes founding members and snowboarders Mason Aguirre, Danny Davis, Keir Dillon, Jack Mitrani, and Kevin Pearce.
“Luke Mitrani and Louis Vito are both two good friends of mine,” said Lago, whose vaunted Frends Crew is always in the competitive mix. “In any given contest, we know that one of us is going to pull through. Luke was riding really well yesterday and he was totally deserving of his placement. It’s always good to see one of your friends get up there and go after it.”
When asked if he had considered competing in the Grand Prix’s slopestyle event, Lago was quick to respond.
“No slopestyle,” said Lago. “I’m putting all of my focus on the half-pipe right now.”
Lago is in the midst of a strenuous stretch run with all roads leading to Sochi, Russia and the 22nd Winter Olympics in February of 2014. Although Lago was a medal-winner in the half-pipe at 2010 games in Vancouver, there’s no guarantee that he’ll end earning one of the four core spots on the United States snowboarding team.
“Qualifying doesn’t begin until next winter,” said Lago. “We have to have four people in the top 25 overall in the World Cup rankings to get them, so we have four core spots for the US, which is the maximum number of people we can send to the Olympics.
“Hopefully I can make the team again. There will be five contests, and they’ll take your best two results out of the five. After then it’s off to Russia.”
For Lago, rounding out the 2013 winter season with momentum on his side will be a priority.
“I’m going to putting all of my energy into competing,” said Lago. “It’ll be the first time that I’ve ever really concentrated just on competing, focusing all of my time and energy on the half-pipe.”
In preparation for Russia, Lago has penned a schedule that includes the Winter X-Games in Aspen, the Burton European Open in Laax, Switzerland, and then a pit stop in Russia before heading back to Colorado and gearing up for the pivotal 2014 winter.
With the X Games just around the bend, Lago couldn’t be in better spirits.
“I’m feeling really good. I’ve never been more confident or happier with my riding than I am now,” said Lago, who will be prepping for the famous event in Breckenridge. “The time I’m going to spend (at Breckenridge) is going to be important, very helpful in the week and a half leading up to the X Games.”