Ed Chanod doesn't have a top-of-the-line snowboard. And the mountain where he trains would be a bunny hill out West.
But none of that has stopped Ed. He beat out the best youth snowboarders in the country this month at the USA Snowboard Association National Championships in Colorado. Ed took gold in the giant slalom and silver in the slalom in his age group.
"It's good to know I am the best of all of them," said Ed, 9, a third-grader from Ridgewood.
Ed began snowboarding at age 5, when his father took him to watch a cousin ride at Campgaw, the small mountain in Mahwah. He begged his father to let him try and they went back to learn together. His father broke his arm first day out. But Ed — well let's just say it wasn't long before others on the mountain had nicknamed him "Shred."
"For me, it's just a pure joy to watch him and to go out there with him," said his father, Ed Chanod Jr., who took up snowboarding again when his arm healed. "I have a 9-year-old kid ripping it up, turning heads. That's my kid they are looking at."
Shred joined Team Campgaw when he was 7 and, last year, he began dominating races all over the Catskills. "It's fun to hang out with my friends on the team and getting to ride on all these mountains," he said.
He won so many races this year — including the regional championships — that he was ranked the best in the nation by the time he was invited to complete in the nationals at Copper Mountain, Colo.
"I've been coaching kids 25 years. He is one of the most naturally gifted riders I have had and without a doubt the most coachable," said one of his coaches, Dave Hirschberg of Oradell. "He takes it all in and does everything you tell him."
The team from the little mountain in Bergen County sent six members to the nationals, the largest snowboard event in the country. The top regional athletes are invited to compete.
"Before we left, we found out his ranking," his mother, Peg Chanod, said. "He said 'I might have a shot to medal.' It was an 'aha' moment for him."
But the competition was the first week of April and, by then, there was no snow around here to train. "He went off without really having practiced for weeks," she said.
The team trains at Campgaw, but races at larger mountains, like Windham. Still, they are nothing like the massive peaks in Colorado. "The view from the top was something," Ed said.
All of the racers from Campgaw achieved personal bests, but Ed, as his coach says, "tore it up." The slalom events involve racing down the mountain while zigzagging between poles. Ed was unstoppable as he took on kids who ride big mountains every day.
"It was very cool to see him do that." Hirschberg said. "To have someone from our team on the podium was exciting."
Hirschberg also did well, taking a silver medal in the Legend Men series Giant Slalom Alpine event. "The race at nationals was my first full-on race in 20-something years," he said. "I'm definitely racing next year."
Ed's mother, a teacher, sees a lesson in her son's trips to the medal stand at nationals. "It was a great experience to have this boy coming out of Campgaw and beating these kids," she said. "This shows you can do it from anywhere. You can make things happen."
Ed plans to keep making things happen: He's already thinking about nationals next year.
"I hope to do this for a long time," he said.