TRURO - Many teenagers look for any excuse to get some time away from their family.
Not Liam Moffatt. Then again, the 16-year-old Truro native isn't like most teens. He relishes every moment he can get with his family because those moments only happen for a handful of weeks each year.
Since he was 14, Moffatt has been living at the base of Sugarloaf Mountain in Carrabassett Valley, Me., where he attends Carrabassett Valley Academy, a private school which focuses on college prep academics and elite ski and snowboarding training. He only gets back to Truro at Christmas, during spring break and during an annual pause in his studies in November. He's even away all summer while working as a camp counselor in New Brunswick.
Naturally it's difficult, but Moffatt wouldn't have it any other way.
"It's tough but then I think about it and realize how lucky I am to be going to school where I am and I just really appreciate it," Moffatt said.
That's a pretty easy thing to do when the school presents opportunities like it is this weekend for Moffatt, who is in Copper, Colo., ready to duke it out with some of the best snowboarders in the world at the United States of America Snowboard Association national championship. Moffatt will be competing in snowboardcross - his specialty - on Sunday and returns to the slopes Monday for giant slalom competition.
He'll be competing in the 16 and 17 age division and feels he can be among the competition's best.
"My goal is to try to get on the podium," Moffatt, a Grade 11 student, said. "And the way I've ridden so far this year I think I can get a result like that."
Moffatt, who will try his hand at Canadian junior and Nor-Am Cup events at Big White Ski Resort in British Columbia next week, has posted a promising season in his second year at CVA, including a pair of eighth-place finishes at Mont Tremblant in Quebec and at Sugarloaf.
"He's been on a pretty steady climb," Moffatt's coach Mike Mallon said. "My expectations are pretty high for him at nationals. I feel he's got a good chance to do well."
That's because Moffatt, whom Mallon said doggedly works at his craft, has found the right atmosphere to hone his skills. He typically gets four hours per day on the world-class Sugarloaf slopes to work on the fine details of his sport with some of the best coaches in the United States. The combination has already produced Olympians like Bode Miller, Seth Wescott and Kirsten Clark.
Moffatt hopes to join that list someday.
"That's what I have been trying to do all my life," he said. "It would be amazing to do that."
According to Mallon, the possibility of Moffatt's dream coming true is very real.
"Absolutely," Mallon said. "He's right on track for someone his age. At the Olympics this year the boardercross guys were 26 to 35 year old so it takes a few years to develop but he's definitely shown he can be one of those guys."
Getting encouragement like that definitely helps make Moffatt feel like the sacrifices he's making are worth it.
"It' a big commitment but that's what you have to do if you want to get to this high level of snowboarding."
On Twitter: @tdnmatt