FitzSimons flies to National titles

Sean Fitzsimons, 13, pictured in the midst of a frontside 720, claimed gold in slopestyle and halfpipe events at the recent USASA National Championships at Copper Mountain, Colo.

Sean Fitzsimons, 13, pictured in the midst of a frontside 720, claimed gold in slopestyle and halfpipe events at the recent USASA National Championships at Copper Mountain, Colo.

When Sean FitzSimons entered the U.S.A. Snowboard and Freeski Association National Championship this year, it was the fourth time the 13-year-old snowboarder from Hood River competed in the event.

This time, however, FitzSimons did something he hasn’t done before at the National Champs: He won. Twice.

FitzSimons took the gold in the 12-13 age group for both the slopestyle and the 22-foot superpipe events at the competition in Copper Mountain, Colo., earlier this month, beating out over 60 regional qualifiers from around the country in each contest. The national competition is “the largest snowboard and free skiing event on the earth,” according to its website.

Sean, who is the son of Mike and Jen FitzSimons, said he was definitely pleased with the result.

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“It felt really good to win,” he said. “I was really happy.”

Not only did FitzSimons take first, but he enjoyed a respectable lead over his opponents in a sport where winners and losers are often separated by mere tenths of a point. FitzSimons said he scored a 79 in pipe — a result he estimated was a full point ahead of the next-best score. In slope, FitzSimons scored an 87, which he said was about four points better than the second-place finisher. The tricks he landed — including a back 720 to front 720 — weren’t bigger than other competitors, he explained, but his execution of the tricks paid off.

FitzSimons has been snowboarding since he was four years old and has been competing at the national level since he was 10, but FitzSimons had no chip on his shoulder going into the National Champs.

“I was pretty nervous,” he admitted. “It was my biggest event of the season.”

FitzSimons spent approximately a week in Copper Mountain, where he mingled with other skiers and snowboarders when he wasn’t competing. He attends the prestigious Windells snowboarding and free skiing academy in Brightwood as well as raced in the USASA Hood Series, and said he recognized many of his fellow competitors at the National Champs.

“It’s really fun, he said of the event. “You get to meet a bunch of new friends and see old friends.”

FitzSimons, who attends seventh grade at Hood River Middle Schools, says he also enjoys skateboarding, lacrosse, and kiteboarding when the snow isn’t flying, but plans to continue snowboarding throughout high school and hopefully into college as well.

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Parkdale third graders sing "12 Disaster Days of Christmas"

Welcome to your sing-able Christmas gift list. What follows is an emergency rendition of “12 Days of Christmas” – for outfitting your home or car in case of snow storm, earthquake, flood or other emergency. Read it as a simple list, or sing it to the tune of “12 Days” – you know, as in “ … and a partridge in a pear tree…” Not to make light of it, but the song is a familiar framework for a set of gift ideas that you could consider gathering together, even if the recipient already owns items such as a bunch of coats, tire chains and flashlights. Stores throughout the Gorge are stocked up on all these items. Buying all 12 days might be prohibitive, but here are three ideas for checking any of the dozen off your list (notations follow, 1-12.) The gift items needed to stay warm, dry and safe are also coded to suggest items in your abode (A) in your car (C) or both (B). 12 Gallons of Water (A) 11 Family meals (B) 10 Cans of propane (A) 9 Hygiene bags (B) 8 Packs of batteries (A) 7 Spare coats (B) 6 Bright red flares (C) 5 Cozy blankets (B) 4 Tire chains (C) 3 Flashlights (B) 2 cell phone chargers (B) 1 And a crush-proof first aid kit (B) Price ranges? Here’s a few quotes for days Three, Two, Four and Nine: n A family gift of flashlights (three will run $15-30, Hood River Supply, Tum-A-Lum) n Cell phone chargers (two will run $30-60) n Tire chains (basic set, $30, Les Schwab, returnable if unused for the winter) n Family meals ($100 or so should cover the basics for three or four reasonably well-fed days) n The home kit should be kept in a handy place near an exit, and remember that water needs to be replenished every few months. If you have a solid first aid kit already, switch out the gift idea with “and-a-sto-o-u-t- tub-for it-all …” Otherwise, it’s a case of assembling your home or car kits and making sure all members of the family know what the resources are and how to use them (ie flares and propane). Emergency situations are at worst life-threatening, at best deeply uncomfortable if you and your family are left without power for an extended period, or traveling and find yourself in a situation where you need to wait out a storm, lengthy traffic delay, or other crisis. Notes on the 12 gift ideas: 12 – Gallons of water: that’s one per person in a four-member family to last for three days, the recommended minimum to be prepared for utility outages. 11 – Easy-open packaged goods, energy bars, dried food and nuts are good things to include for nutrition. Think of what your family of four needs for three days to stay fortified and hydrated (see number 12). Can-opener also recommended 10 – If you have a propane camping stove, keep extra fuel handy. 9 – Hygiene bags: put packaged moistened towelettes, toilet paper, and plastic ties in large garbage bags (for personal sanitation) Resource list courtesy of Hood River County Emergency Management, Barbara Ayers, manager/ 541-386-1213. The county also reminds residents to Get a Kit, Make A Plan to connect your family if separated, and Stay Informed. See to opt-in for citizen alerts. Enlarge

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