Madeline Lochte-Bono has gone all-in on her Olympic and world championship dream at a young age. Now, the two-time national champion in snowboard cross will get a chance to wear the American team jacket at the Youth Olympics.
The 2020 Winter Youth Olympics will be held Jan. 9-22 in Lausanne, Switzerland. Durango’s Lochte-Bono, only days removed from her 17th birthday, is set to compete in snowboard cross, also known as boardercross, a sport in which four to six athletes race down a narrow course filled with drops, jumps, rollers and banked turns. The first to the finish line wins.
The opening ceremony for the Youth Olympics is Thursday, followed by a full slate of winter Olympic sports for young athletes. Lochte-Bono was selected to represent the USA because she was one of the top-two girls born between 2002-03 from the U.S. in points at last year’s North American (NorAm) Cup races.
“I am extremely excited to be one of two females representing the USA at the Youth Olympics,” Lochte-Bono said in an email interview with The Durango Herald. “Afterreceiving a USA jacket in the mail, I am eager to ride one of the biggest snowboard cross courses I have ridden and to represent my country.”
Last season, Lochte-Bono had four top-seven finishes in NorAm Cup races, and she was selected to represent the U.S. in the junior world championships in Austria. During the summer, she spent time in Australia to compete.
Lochte-Bono will hope to put together another strong season beginning with the Youth Olympics in Switzerland. She said her goal is to finish in the top eight. She steadily worked her way up the race circuit a year ago. Now, she believes she can work toward a podium at a NorAm Cup race this year.
“I am very proud of the progress I have made this past year,” she said. “Last season was my first year competing in North American Cups, which are competitions that have no age groups. ... Being one of the youngest competing at these competitions, I am very proud of the accomplishments and results I got last year.”
Last season, before her 16th birthday, Lochte-Bono made the decision to move to Silverthorne where she can train full time. Between October and May, she is only able to return home to Durango for 11 days, which comes during Christmas.
“As her parents, we are incredibly impressed with Madeline’s dedication and effort into her sport,” Madeline’s mother Amy Lochte said. “She has minimal free time all year long and can go weeks without a true day off but rarely complains. She has to be responsible for far more then teenagers of her age. Essentially, everything she needs or does day to day, she does for herself. Due to many factors, she travels without us extensively, and if we are around, we can only assist in limited capabilities at this point in her career because her knowledge of the sport far exceeds ours.”
Lochte-Bono has had to mature beyond her years, from grocery shopping for herself to running her own website. She continues to keep up with school work online, all while training seven days a week. If she isn’t on the mountain, she can be found in a cross fit gym, riding her bike or doing anything else she can to help chase her snowboard cross dreams.
“I do not have a normal teenage life,” she said. “I do online school year-round so that I can snowboard five to seven days a week for over seven months of the year. I moved away from my family at age 15 and have to be mostly responsible for myself as adults do. I do not have a lot of time to relax or hang out with friends and family because, when I am not snowboarding, I am preparing for the next day of training or doing school.
“Everything I do is centered around becoming the best athlete I can be. I overcome many obstacles by knowing I have a supportive family and my desire to be one of the best boardercross athletes in the world.”
Lochte-Bono is excited to have her father, Ryan Bono, her little sister, Gabrielle, and her grandfather, Will, travel to Switzerland to see her compete in the Youth Olympics. They will also get to take in the closing ceremonies that Lochte-Bono will be part of. Her sister and grandfather have never seen her compete before. She is excited to go sightseeing with her family when she is not competing or practicing.
“We are not concerned or focused on her placement in her races, but rather that she enjoys the entire experience,” Amy Lochte said. “Ryan was able to snowboard with Madeline and her team a couple days in December and couldn’t believe how fast she had gotten. Due to how much she travels, we do not get to see her races often.”
Coverage of the Youth Olympics can be found on the Olympic Channel. Women’s snowboard cross is scheduled for Jan. 20, and mixed team racing will be held Jan. 21.