Selhorst prepares for snowboarding nationals

Eugene Rapay

Katie Selhorst only knows one speed: fast. 

The 19-year old sophomore from Cleveland, Ohio is always in motion — whether it is moving from one class to the next, hopping gracefully over obstacles on the back of a horse, and flying down the slope on her trusty snowboard.

Selhorst will need to be in top form to go her absolute fastest in the 2016 USCSA National Championships at Lake Placid, N.Y. this week, where she will compete in three events: bordercross, slope style, and her personal favorite, giant slalom.

The big stage is nothing new for Selhorst, as she’s been there many times before.

“When I was 11, I was winning races and I figured I should actually do this,” Selhorst said. “Then I got really serious about it and that was the first year I was in nationals.”

Since first qualifying for nationals as an 11-year old, Selhorst has made it back each year ever since.

She first started snowboarding at the age of six, expressing a desire to try something new with a friend. Once she got onto the board, it was impossible for her to get off. She couldn’t imagine putting on a pair of skis ever again.

“I think it’s a lot of fun,” Selhorst said. “I don’t think there’s anything else like it. It’s just so exciting and unique.”

When Selhorst was nine, her parents bought a house up in Ellicottville, N.Y. The purchase meant weekly ski trips for her and her family. It was soon after that she began snowboarding competitively.

Growing up she participated in many other sports—basketball, softball, track, lacrosse, and soccer—but upon reaching high school the answer was clear.

She dropped each of the other sports to focus on snowboarding and when it is not wintertime, horseback riding. 

For now, snowboarding dominates her attention as nationals calls for her very best. She has put over 12 hours each weekend into preparing for this moment, competing as a member of Villanova’s Club Ski and Snowboarding Team. 

All of this, while balancing academics and getting sleep. 

“It’s a lot of work; it’s a lot of time, but it’s so much fun,” Selhorst said. “When I get back down from a run and I realize that I have a crap ton of homework to do, it sucks but when I’m up there I don’t care how much homework I have to do.”

With little-to-no free time, Selhorst has had to intermingle snowboarding and academics to try to get the most out of both fields as best as she can. 

“I had a molecular biology test one weekend,” she said. “So I was sitting at the bottom reading. Every two runs I would read a chapter, then I would go back out and snowboard.”

Finding precious time to study and finish schoolwork has not been the only obstacle. 

This year, at regionals, she sustained injuries to her ribs and her left hand after a hard fall from flipping over a rail. She wears a thin bandage wrap around her left hand and wrist to offer some protection and support.

However, it is something that she is well used to and certainly something that will not stop her from competing this week at nationals.

“I’m hurt all the time,” she said. “I’ve had a million overuse injuries, I’ll usually get hurt three times a season. I just keep competing and deal with them at the end of the season. It’s probably not good, but that’s how I do it. Probably not the wisest thing to do, but it’s okay.”

Selhorst has two main goals for this week. 

First, she wants to crack the top ten in bordercross after finishing 11th in the event at nationals last year. 

Also, she wants to add to her medal count.

Two years ago, Selhorst picked up a pair of bronze medals in slalom. 

She wants to reach the podium for giant slalom, with hopes to notch her first medal in that event after narrowly missing out with a fourth place finish last time around.

The near miss was something that she did not really dwell on too much, nor something that she is truly worried about. 

“It’s a unique sport, someone taking a slightly wider turn can put them in 10th place over first,” Selhorst said. “It can be really frustrating at times, but being able to have fun with it and not taking everything too seriously helps. Well, take it seriously because it’s a serious thing, but have fun while doing it.”

She will travel to nationals with a few members of the women’s ski and men’s snowboarding teams that also qualified from Villanova’s Club Ski and Snowboarding Team. 

However, she will be the lone female snowboarder making the trip.

There is no pressure involved for her, as someone who has made it to the big stage numerous times before, this is simply the fun part. 

After all, she cannot get too caught up on the past. 

Instead, Selhorst has to look forward and race for that next objective and goal, making each second of every single precious run count.

“You’ve already put the hours in training, you’ve already practiced and done all the races to get all the points to get there,” Selhorst said. “This is just the fun part. This is just you showing off everything that you’ve learned and having fun. I’ve already done the hard work. Now it’s time to have fun and hopefully it pays off.”