TSSC-Trained Fern Miller Among Top U.S. Women Invited to Compete in World Cup Competition in Telluride
by Martinique Davis
Dec 17, 2010 | 579 views | 0 0 comments | 4 4 recommendations | email to a friend | print
TELLURIDE – Telluride-bred snowboarder Fern Miller is flushed and smiling when she meets me at the base of the Village Express in Mountain Village. She has just finished her first day of training for the LG Snowboard World Cup PGS (Parallel Giant Slalom) event. Although she admits without delay that she is exceedingly excited to be here, at her first-ever World Cup, she comes off as relatively unruffled about the pending competition.

She is, after all, a professional.

Miller has been racing competitively for almost as long as she has been snowboarding. She first strapped on a snowboard and joined the Telluride Ski and Snowboard Club (the local nonprofit kids ski and snowboard program) back in 2001, at the age of 13. She quickly climbed the ranks, consistently receiving invitations to compete at Nationals events then going on to qualify for the top-tier Race for the Cup series (part of the North American Cup, or NorAm, series).

Nowadays, she goes to college at Westminster College in Salt Lake City, and is finishing out her final year there as an economics major. She’s also a full-time athlete, who has just accomplished her most lofty goal heretofore: Making it to the World Cup.

Being back home in Telluride for her World Cup debut is “icing on the cake,” she says.

“It’s a little bit intimidating, brushing shoulders with Olympians,” Miller admits of her pending World Cup start. “It’s a different caliber of racer who comes here.”

Yet being able to compete on her home mountain for this, her first-ever World Cup, has been a blessing, she says. She gets to step away from the buzz of World Cup activity currently engulfing Mountain Village when she goes home at night to stay with her family – including mother Cheryl, father Bud, and siblings Sarah, David, and Andy –

who will all be on hand to cheer her on when she steps into the starting gate this Thursday.

Miller got her start racing with TSSC, under the direction of past-Snowboard Team coaches John Jett, Kirk Davis and David Glenn. These days, she trains with the recently formed FAST (First Alpine Snowboard Team,) currently based in Park City, Utah, with coaches Chris Karol and Srdjan Pantic and teammates Heather Herde, Patrick Hanna, and Gaelen Schiedel-Webb, and sister Sarah (currently a student at THS.)

Miller’s competitive cache made major advances last winter, thanks to a sixth-place finish at the USASA (USA Snowboarding Association’s) Nationals, and a 10th-place finish at the NorAm (North American Cup) finals.

She qualified for this week’s Telluride-hosted World Cup through points accumulations from past events. It was only two weeks ago that she received a formal invitation to attend, however.

Miller says her goals for this week’s PGS competition is to record her own personal-best times. Not letting the excitement of World Cup competition interfere with her performance will also be a major objective as she steps onto the course on Thursday.

“I want to race as well as do in smaller events, and keep calm and focused and normal so I can perform at my best,” she says.

Keeping those pre-race butterflies at bay could prove to be a daunting task, with the international alpine snowboarding world’s greatest here in Telluride competing against her. But then again, Miller is herself one of the international alpine snowboarding world’s greatest too, as her presence on this week’s World Cup start list corroborates.
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