Pfaff wins national ski-cross title
Palmerton’s Logan Pfaff competes during a ski-cross event. The 16-year-old captured a national title at Copper Mountain in Colorado in April. Pfaff’s sister Jayleena posted a 12th-place finish in the snowboard-cross event. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO
The Pfaff family of Palmerton had a great reason to celebrate.
Make that two reasons.
Logan Pfaff won the ski-cross national title at Copper Mountain in Colorado in early April, and his sister, Jayleena, finished in 12th place from a field of 44 in the snowboard-cross event.
A ski-cross race is comprised of four skiers who begin from a starting gate. They race each other down a one kilometer course that is specially constructed over different sizes of jumps, waves, rolls, flat sections and steep turns. The racers wear protective helmets and back pads.
The four racers are placed together based upon individual time trials. Logan, as a member of the Blue Mountain Racing Team, had a time of 46.89 seconds — which brought his point total to 1195, good enough for second place going into the racing competition.
The 16-year-old has ski-crossed in New York, New Jersey, Maine and Pennsylvania. He has competed against racers from Massachusetts, Connecticut, California, and Washington at Copper Mountain.
“Those with the most points going into the racing rounds get to compete against those with the fewest in the first race,” said Logan, who is a junior cyber-schooler at the Commonwealth Charter Academy.
“I also got to pick which one of the four gates to begin the race. I like to start from the far right so I can keep a good edge and stay in a straight line to the finish.”
Joe Forte, Logan’s former coach of the Free Riders at Blue Mountain, remembered meeting him when he was a reluctant 9-year-old who lacked confidence.
“Logan came to the slopes just to have fun,” said Forte, “but I could tell that he wasn’t intimidated by the older competitors.”
From not taking the sport seriously to becoming a more mature and skilled skier, Logan still kept his easygoing nature, and his Blue Mountain Racing Team members were always happy to have him around.
At Copper last year, Logan had fallen in a quarterfinal race in the Nationals and finished 29th. This year, in heat after heat he finished 100 yards ahead of his competitors.
In the final race that would determine the national champion and gold-medal winner, Pfaff got out of the gate slowly, but quickly made up for it in the first stretch of the course. He soon took the lead and in Forte’s words, “he smoked his way through the finish line.”
Alicia Pfaff said that her son won by more than one second, which in ski racing time is quite a big margin.
“I would have been happy just to see him finish the race and not crash,” she said. “I promised myself that if he didn’t win I wouldn’t let him see my disappointment.”
Her disappointment would never have to come. Instead, she cried tears of happiness as Logan crossed the finish line in first place.
“He’s such a humble kid. After he won, he went back on the lift to go up and see the coaches. They told him to go back down to enjoy the moment with me.”
“I really had no goal to win,” said Logan. “I ski-cross for fun. The final was a crazy race. It was exciting and I was glad to see my mother so happy.”
Alicia would have another reason to be proud when her 12-year-old daughter did so well in the snowboard-cross competition after sitting out the ski season following a concussion she had sustained in January.
Snowboard-crossers race down a similar course that the ski-crossers use, but it’s designed for more speed.
“This is only her second year on a snowboard,” said Alicia. “She was an accomplished gymnast, but she gave that up due to a wrist injury. Unlike Logan, she’s very competitive in nature and is driven to try to win.”
Jayleena’s time trials placed her in the middle of the pack and on April 13, she finished third in her quarterfinal race. Then it was her turn to cheer on her brother.
“After she watched her brother win the gold medal, she ran so fast into his arms, they both fell onto the snow,” said their happy mom.
The celebration at Copper Mountain was extra special as the organization responsible for the races, the United States of America Snowboard and Freeski Association had honored its 30th anniversary.
Following fall training, Logan and Jayleena Pfaff will return to compete in the Nationals next year.