Racing toward success

Most individuals having earned a national snowboard championship would look ahead with zeal to defend that title the following year, but 21-year-old New Paltz junior Nicole Imbriani would rather focus on her academic pursuits in the Graphic Design Program in the School of Fine and Performing Arts at New Paltz, believing it will give her even more opportunity within the industry that she has grown to love.

Last winter, Imbriani earned first place in boardercross in the 18 – 22-year-old division at the U.S. Ski and Snowboard Association National Championships at Copper Mountain, Colo. Although it was her best result, she had previously been awarded silver in snowboarding’s giant slalom in 2008 and a bronze in boardercross in Lake Tahoe in 2007.

“I would love to go back to Nationals and defend first place,” said Imbriani, “but at the same time, I got first place last year and it does not get much better than that.”

Arguably, most aspiring snowboarders would love to tout a national championship when pursuing a professional racing contract, but Imbriani, who lives in Hillsborough, NJ, said that her involvement in the relatively young sport of snowboarding has sparked an interest in the industry beyond racing, one that she now looks to leverage with her graphic design degree from New Paltz.

“It has been a very difficult decision,” said Imbriani, “but I started not to be able to race as much as I would have liked when I decided to apply to the BFA program at New Paltz – it is forcing me to make a more adult decision. It was very hard to do.”

Since her decision to attend New Paltz, Imbriani said she has applied herself to her academics and that the Graphic Design Program at New Paltz has given her the level of opportunity she feels she will need in her efforts to find a job at a snowboard company or within the ski resort industry.

Imbriani said, “It is not a huge program and you get a lot of one-on-one time with the teachers, which was really important to me, and I like that the Graphic Design Program and Photography Program are in the same building together – we are always working together on things and sharing ideas and resources,” she added.

One of Imbriani’s professors in the program, Aleanna Luethi-Garrecht, said that she has “found Nicole to be very proficient. She responded very, very well and she is quite diligent with her work,” she said.

“Aleanna really pushed me to get out of my comfort zone,” said Imbriani. “She stopped me from coming up with the same ideas and to try new things. I’ve met a lot of different people going to school here – some that snowboard and some that don’t. There are a lot of different ways for people to get involved on campus that will help them with whatever they choose to do.”