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Nova is flying high

Hudson native Mike Casanova has made it to the top in the world of professional snowboard riding.

On March 3, the 21-year-old claimed $15,000 in prize money for winning the Vans Cup Rail Jam at Lake Tahoe, Calif.

"Yes indeed, Mike 'Nova' Casanova crushed the competition at Friday night's rail event," the online Transworld Snowboarding magazine reported. "It was evident from the get-go that Casanova would win. Todd Richards was one of the announcers, and during practice he was saying, 'Mike, it is just practice, you can't win yet.'"

Later in the article, writer George Crosland says Casanova was the clear winner from the start of the competition.

"He did so many 180-on and 270-on combos that I couldn't keep up," Crosland wrote. "...Nova was on fire - front board and switch front board through the kink, and cab 270 to back lip on the down rail - just to name a few."

Whatever Casanova did, it must have been good.

The kid who used to irritate Hudson business owners for using their outdoor stairway handrails as skateboarding props is now one of the best snowboard rail riders in the world.

According to his parents, Patrick and Linda Casanova, he moved to Breckenridge, Colo., in the fall of 2004 to pursue snowboarding full-time.

His big break came at the Honda Sessions in Vail, Colo., in January 2005. Casanova had gone to the event to hang out with friends. According to Pat Casanova, when one of the invited competitors didn't show up, the woman at the registration table threw Mike a bib and said, 'OK kid, you're in."

He took fourth in the rail event, won the Josh Malay Award for the best trick, and earned his way onto the invitation list for future competitions.

"That was kind of like qualifying for the PGA," said his dad, a Hudson glass artist.

The past year has been one fun ride for Mike, a 2003 Hudson High School graduate.

Last spring, he earned $10,000 in cash for winning the West Coast Invitational Rail Jam at Mammoth Village, Calif.

Vans, a maker of snowboarding clothing, signed on as a sponsor, sending him to New Zealand in the fall to do a fashion shoot of clothing lines that will come out later this year.

In December, he won the Block Rail Jam at Bear Mountain, Calif., and the Red Bull Rail Jam in London, England.

Last weekend, he was competing in Japan.

It all started on the slopes of Trollhaugen Ski Area in Dresser, where he started skiing at the age of 4, according to his parents. He got his first snowboard at age 6.

"I used skiing as a way of keeping the boys out of hockey," Pat said. "I grew up in a family that skied, and I wanted to be involved in a sport that we could all do instead of something that I went and watched."

Mike also practiced his sport at the Badlands Sno-Park east of Hudson.

"It's a different world. It's fairly fluid," Linda Casanova said of her son's new occupation. "It's a challenge for us to even get a hold of him."

He has an agent now, and his sponsors keep him busy competing and representing their products at events throughout the United States and abroad.

Randy Hanson

Randy Hanson has reported for the Star-Observer since 1997. He came to Hudson after 11 years with the Inter-County Leader at Frederic, and eight years of teaching social studies. He’s a graduate of UW-Eau Claire.

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