BAR HARBOR — It is not difficult to see what a 13-year-old boy likes about snowboarding.
The sport is fast, it’s fun, and it is a little more precarious than your average tennis match.
But for Zack Zaman of Bar Harbor, the sport attracted him because of the sense of control it gives the athlete. “I can kind of go wherever I want when I’m on the snow with my board,” said Zack. “It makes it feel like I am in control, … and the speed is very nice.”
This weekend, the Conners Emerson School seventh grader will compete at the U.S.A. Snowboard and Freeski Association (USASA) National Championship in Copper Mountain, Colo.
Zack’s love for the sport began when his parents, Jeff and Lynn Zaman, began taking him and Dezirae, his older sister, to Sugarloaf regularly about eight years ago.
“By the end of the third year, Zack was the best of the four of us, and so he started training there,” Jeff Zaman said.
For the past three years, Zack has trained at the Carrabassett Valley Academy Weekend Program each weekend from Thanksgiving until the snow melts in April. The program counts Olympians Seth Wescott, Bode Miller, Jeff Greenwood, Kirsten Clark and Emily Cook as alumni.
Zack counts Wescott, the two-time Olympic gold medalist in the snowboard cross, who lives in Carrabassett Valley, as a role model.
“Seth Wescott is definitely someone I look up to,” Zack said. “He really inspires me, especially because we ride on the same mountain together.”
It seems that Zack is well on his way to following in his hero’s snow tracks.
After competing in several Maine Mountain Series events this winter, Zack earned the chance to compete in four events at the USASA nationals: slalom, giant slalom, boarder cross and slopestyle.
In slopestyle, his favorite event, the snowboarder glides through a course with obstacles such as rails and jumps and is then judged on style and landings rather than speed.
“It’s a lot of fun,” Zack said. “The feeling of being in the air after jumps is a phenomenal, amazing feeling for me.”
Currently, Zack is ranked No. 63 in the country in slopestyle for boys ages 12-13 and is in the top 50 in his four other events.
A trip to Copper Mountain for Zack and his parents is not without its costs, so the Zamans have set up a GoFundMe page online to help defray costs.
After the snow is gone, Zack also enjoys playing soccer and was on the Conners Emerson team last fall.
But snowboarding seems to be his No. 1 priority. “I definitely want to try to snowboard professionally,” Zack said.