MANCHESTER - The start of the snowboard season may be about a month away, but so far Burr and Burton snowboard coach Amy Herrmann is encouraged by what she has seen so far out of this year's team.

"It looks like we have a really strong core of freestyle riders, slopestyle and some half-pipe," said Herrmann. "So, that's going to be incredibly helpful. We've always had a pretty decent group of slopestyle riders, but I think this year there's some really good riders on our team."

Herrmann said she was particularly pleased with what she saw out of the 12-member girls team - a number of whom are freshmen - during their first practice on snow last Friday. As for the 18-member boys team, Herrmann said she had a couple of new students who are new to the team this year. There are also some international students on the team who are good riders as well, Herrmann said.

Last year, four boys and one girl graduated from BBA's state championship team. Though those riders were integral parts of BBA's championship run, Herrmann said there is a lot of talent returning to this year's squad.

"A lot of the kids that were sort of heavy hitters are still on our team so we have that going for us at the moment," Herrman said.

One area that Herrmann said the team always struggles is in half-pipe because they don't get to train for that event as much as they should - something that leads to it being a weakness when they compete in the state championships. Last year for example, Herrmann said resorts either didn't build pipes at all or they built smaller pipes than normal. Stratton did have a pipe last year, Herrmann said, but it was built specifically for the U.S. Open and BBA did not have the opportunity to train on it. Given the mild conditions that ski resorts are experiencing so far, Herrmann said her concern again this year is that the team will not be able to get enough training on the half-pipe.

While it's still early in December, Herrmann acknowledged that having another mild winter like last season is a concern and that the mild conditions that resorts have been experiencing so far are already taking their toll on the team.

"It makes it difficult. Already we should have had a week on snow under our belts, but because of the weather we've got an additional week of dry land training and running pond loops up at Equinox," said Herrmann.

Despite the conditions, Herrmann said she does not belief her team's situation is unique as many other teams in the area are likely experiencing the same set of circumstances.

Although Herrmann would not make any predictions about the team's chances for another state title, she expects this year's team to be competitive. "We've got a lot of girls with a lot of energy and potential. So, I think our girls team will do better," Herrmann said. "On the boys side, I think a large portion of our stronger riders are still with us for one or two more years and our younger riders that have come up into the program are pretty strong. So, I think we could make a push again. We could be in contention again if we keep it together all season."

BBA begins their season on Jan. 8 at Bromley Mountain with a Giant Slalom race.