Chalk up another national title for Durango’s Mark Daley.
Daley, a 45-year-old Durango snowboarder, claimed his third consecutive Legends Division national championship in the slopestyle competition at the United States of America Snowboard and Freeski Association Snowboard Nationals on March 31 at Copper Mountain.
“It is a treat. It is awesome and gratifying, and winning makes me want to do it again next year,” Daley said. “It is great competing with a bunch of people my age. We all started around the same time, and it is great seeing how far everyone has come.”
A member of the San Juan Freestyle Team led by coach Josh Muzzy, Daley scored an 88.67 to easily claim the title as he finished nearly 30 points ahead of runner-up Shawn O’Berry of Golden. Daley scored better than 90 on every rail trick and higher than 80 on all of the jumps to soar above the competition in the 40-49 age division.
“(Daley) works really hard at what he does. He has more than 140 days in this year between (Durango Mountain Resort), Breckenridge and Keystone,” said Muzzy, who now has been a part of five national championships as coach of the San Juan Freestyle Team.
Daley began snowboarding in 1989 and marvels at how the sport has developed through the years, especially slopestyle courses. He has worked at Purgatory helping build terrain park features, and said the innovation of slopestyle courses has kept his interest through the years.
“I am still learning tricks while hitting bigger jumps than ever before,” he said. “It is the development that has kept my interest. It used to just be hand-dug pipes and no jumps. Being involved with that has kept me motivated and will keep me motivated as they grow and get more creative.”
Daley didn’t earn any cash prize for the USASA national championship, but he said it keeps his sponsors, such as Anon Optics and Burton Snowboards, happy.
When he isn’t riding a mountain, Daley works at Inferno Board Shop and as a bartender at the Ore House restaurant in Durango. He moved to Durango more than 18 years ago.
“I had a friend living here, and I really came to ride all that powder at Wolf Creek,” Daley said. “That and Purgatory. I love this area.”
Another San Juan Freestyle Team member, Dillon Wilson, claimed fourth out of 71 riders in the slopestyle competition’s open division. He scored a 74.50, finishing 11.50 points behind winner Peter Brichta of Burnsville, Minn.
Joe Reed, another San Juan Freestyle Team rider, finished 26th in slopestyle in the junior men’s division for 16-17-year-old competitors. Muzzy said Reed was slowed significantly by poor snow conditions late in the competition.
Riding with younger athletes such as Reed and Wilson helps inspire Daley, he said.
“Those fellas and some of the girls like Courtney Cox on our team helps me a lot,” Daley said. “They are super methodical when they put runs together, and that helps me out. It’s really neat.”
Daley has no plans of slowing down after his three-peat. After a few sore ribs heal up, he plans to head back north and keep riding as long as he can this season to prepare for next year’s competitions.
“I’m going to keep doing this as long as I can. Until the cartilage in my legs is gone, at least,” he said.