Owen and Haven Kennedy are going to nationals

  • Owen and Haven Kennedy have accepted invitations to compete at the USASA National Championships at Copper Mountain in Colorado beginning March 29. PHOTO BY Josh Kennedy

  • Haven Kennedy gets some big air during a competition at Mount Snow earlier this season. Kennedy will compete at the USASA National Championships at Copper Mountain in Colorado later this month. Courtesy of Josh Kennedy—

  • Owen Kennedy rides a rail during a competition earlier this season. Kennedy and his younger brother Haven will compete at the USASA National Championships at Copper Mountain in Colorado beginning March 29. Courtesy of Josh Kennedy—

Monadnock Ledger-Transcript
Published: 3/19/2019 12:13:55 PM

Anyone who knows their dad will tell you that Owen and Haven Kennedy are chips off the old block.

The brothers from Dublin are fearless on a snowboard – and pretty good too – and will take their talents to Copper Mountain in Colorado later this month for the United States of America Snowboard and Freeski Association’s national championships.

The duo have been snowboarding longer than they can remember. Owen was about three when his dad, Josh, first introduced him to the sport, and Haven was two. Neither can recall that first time cruising around the family’s backyard, but it’s safe to say it was love at first ride for the brothers.

“I’m really passionate about it,” Owen said. “And now I feel I could go somewhere with it.”

Owen is 11 and will compete in the 10-to-11-year old snowboard menehune division for slopestyle, while Haven, who turned nine in January, will try his abilities at slopestyle, rail jam and half pipe at the national championships March 29 through April 4. Both were invited before, but Kennedy wanted to give them another year to prepare for it.

“This year, we pretty much knew after the first competition they had a good chance,” Kennedy said.

And the odds are pretty good that both will be light years ahead of where their dad ever got during his days of competing – if they’re not already. Because while Kennedy introduced his sons to the sport very early in life, he skied for a good portion of his youth before finally convincing his parents to get him a snowboard at the age of 11. He took to the sport quickly and won some local competitions, but there’s no substitute for learning something that early in life where it almost becomes second nature.

“Right away they both decided it’s what they wanted to do. They eat, sleep and breath it,” Kennedy said. “I know there are opportunities out there for them and we have the ability to give it to them. But the No. 1 thing is it has to be fun.”

They first started riding at Crotched Mountain – as well as their backyard where Kennedy installed a small park last year – and still consider it their home mountain. Early on, it was clear that both Owen and Haven had an ability that was clearly passed down from their dad. They showed no hesitation hitting jumps and constantly want to go bigger.

“Half the battle is having the confidence to hit the jumps that go 40, 50 feet,” Kennedy said.

After Owen took part in a four-day camp at Mount Snow last spring, and quickly connected with the coaches that run Mount Snow Academy, he told his parents he wanted to be on the Mount Snow winter competition team. Haven didn’t need any convinicing and neither did the Kennedys.

So every weekend, the family makes the hour-plus drive to Mount Snow for the 17-weekend program designed to train young snowboarders ages 8 to 18. They also compete in the USASA Southern Vermont Series and other regional events, with their scores adding up to an invitation to the upcoming national championships. Kennedy is also a weekend coach for the jump start program at Mount Snow.

Owen will compete in slopestyle and is currently ranked 18th nationally with a total of 3,050 points, which accounts for his top three finishes. He owns a pair of wins from competitions in mid-January at Whiteface Mountain and Windham Mountain and a second place finish at Mt. Southington on Jan. 27. For the month of March, Owen has been going to Mount Snow Academy, where he has classes all day on Monday and half the day Tuesday through Thursday. The rest of the time he rides.

“The coaches are so good here,” Owen said.

It was a big step to let their 11-year-old go there during the week, but it was something Owen wanted to do and the Kennedys felt it was important to provide that opportunity. Haven is too young for the month program, but has already been asking about it for the future.

“It’s not for beginners. They call it elite level of training for kids who want to go further with it,” Kennedy said.

“It’s in their blood,” Heidi added.

Abilities wise Haven would be eligible, and that’s clear from his competition results. Since this season started, Haven has three wins in rail jam, three more in slopestyle and a pair of second place finishes in halfpipe, which he just started this year. He’s ranked third nationally in rail jam, 10th in slopestyle, and 30th in half pipe.

“You can always learn new, fun tricks,” Haven said. “And I always want to go for the biggest jump.”

And while both Owen and Haven want to do well when they go up against some of the best competition in their age groups, it’s about having fun and putting together some good runs.

 “I don’t really think about it as competition,” Owen said. “It’s more of putting together a good run, and landing the tricks I’m trying.”

They’ve seen what snowboarding can lead to thanks to Brandon Reis, a professional snowboarder who lives in Dublin. They’ve watched his highlights on YouTube too many times to count, and he even went to Mount Snow to ride with them.

“They really look up to Brandon,” Kennedy said.

If they keep going with the sport, which there is little doubt they will, there’s plenty of time to get more serious about the competition side of things.

“It’s my favorite thing to do,” Haven said. “As I get older I want to keep trying new tricks and at one point, I want to do the X Games and I really want to get sponsored.”


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