Central/Logan snowboard standout Chase Leuenberger never thought he could be one of the top high school snowboarders in the nation.
Maybe it took winning the overall individual title at the Wisconsin Interscholastic Alpine Racing Association Ski & Snowboard Championships at Mount La Crosse this winter to help him realize what he was capable of. Or maybe finishing second in the giant slalom at 2018 USASA National Championships did the trick.
“I don’t even think at the beginning of this year I thought I could do this,” Leuenberger said of his recent competition at the national championship held at Copper Mountain, Colo. “I didn’t join the large-scale snowboarding world until this year.”
There were plenty of reasons playing into Leuenberger’s thoughts. He didn’t have the updated equipment that the other competitors did. He’s a self-taught athlete and didn’t have an instructor until arriving at the national tournament. Unlike many competitive snowboarders, he didn’t start competing in the sport until he was a teenager.
Even though he may have lacked some of the things that his competitors had, he had the drive and determination to push him to a level he never thought possible.
“This year I just wanted to continue to do the sport that I love,” he said. “There’s no reason to hold back and not follow your dreams.”
Leuenberger entered the tournament with the mindset of being “Just the average Joe that could get on a snowboard and make some turns.”
The far above-average snowboarder entered the tournament ranked first in the GS and second in the slalom. But it wasn’t until he saw his results that he knew just how strong of a competitor he could be. Leuenberg left Colorado with a silver medal in the GS and two additional top-10 finishes.
“It was a moment of pride,” his mother, Christine Leuenberg, said of his results. “Just to be there was one thing that was overwhelming but to see him compete with success was just amazing. We (his family) were filled with pride.”
The road to the nationals was a nerve-wracking, stressful road for Chase Leuenberger. Knowing that his competition would be some of the best in the country created some anxious moments for the athlete, but also motivated him to train harder.
Competing on a different course in another state also brought upon additional stress, but once he hit the slopes in Colorado, he knew he had nothing to worry about. Unlike Wisconsin’s icy and hard-packed terrain, Colorado provided fluffy snow, which was easier to work with, according to Chase Leuenberger.
Chase Leuenberger proved he could work with his home state’s icy terrain earlier this winter. In February, he took home the overall crown at the state meet at Mount La Crosse meet, along with finishing second in the slalom and third in boardercross.
“I did whatever I could to be the fastest (snowboarder) in Wisconsin,” he said.
So how does one follow up a state championship performance and national championship runner-up finish? Well for Chase Leuenberger, his plans are to do what he loves — keep snowboarding. With no plans to race on his college team, Chase Leuenberger is looking at taking his snowboarding career to the next level with racing for the NorAm tour in hopes of eventually competing on the World Cup Tour.