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Authors: Matt Christopher

Snowboard Showdown

BOOK: Snowboard Showdown
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Copyright

Copyright © 1999 by Matt Christopher Royalties, Inc.

All rights reserved. Except as permitted under the U.S. Copyright Act of 1976, no part of this publication may be reproduced,
distributed, or transmitted in any form or by any means, or stored in a database or retrieval system, without the prior written
permission of the publisher.

Little, Brown and Company

Hachette Book Group

237 Park Avenue

New York, NY 10017

Visit our website at
www.HachetteBookGroup.com

www.twitter.com/littlebrown

First eBook Edition: December 2009

The characters and events in this book are fictitious. Any similarity to real persons, living or dead, is coincidental and
not intended by the author.

Matt Christopher® is a registered trademark of

Matt Christopher Royalties, Inc.

ISBN: 978-0-316-09429-0

To John Carson

Contents

Copyright

Chapter 1

Chapter 2

Chapter 3

Chapter 4

Chapter 5

Chapter 6

Chapter 7

Chapter 8

Chapter 9

Chapter 10

Chapter 11

Chapter 12

Chapter 13

Chapter 14

Chapter 15

Chapter 16

1

F
reddie Ruiz tightened the straps on his snowboard, securing his feet into position. He fastened the leash to his calf so his
board wouldn't go flying while he was airborne. He took a few deep breaths of the biting, cold air and lowered his tinted
goggles over his eyes to protect them from the glare of the snow.

“Here I come, Dondi!” he shouted to his brother, who was waiting at the bottom of the halfpipe's gentle slope. Moments before,
Dondi had successfully executed a series of moves that Freddie was going to try to match.

The two boys were playing their own version of Pig, where a player adds a letter of the word
pig
for each time he fails to match a run. Whoever got
pig
first was the loser. So far, Freddie had a
p
, and Dondi had a
pi.

Freddie, at twelve, was a seventh-grader at Crestview Middle School while Dondi, fourteen, was in eighth grade. But even though
Freddie was eighteen months younger, and smaller, their competitions often ended with Freddie's winning. Dondi might be better
at most things, but Freddie was definitely a better athlete.

“You're going to choke!” Dondi taunted Freddie.

Freddie clenched his fists and bit his lip to keep from answering back. He would answer with a perfect run. That was the best
way to get back at Dondi.

He turned his body and board downhill. Slowly, the board slid down the snowy slope. When he had gained enough speed, Freddie
leaned to the right, heading up the wall.
Whoosh!
He took the air then twisted left in a 180° turn. He landed perfectly, still moving at top speed.

Now he was riding fakie, with the tail of his board forward, back down the wall. He stared straight ahead, trying not to look
at the drop ahead of him. He ran up the other wall and hit the top, then
launched himself into the air again in imitation of Dondi's second jump. He twisted, uncoiling like a spring, and paused to
grab his board, his free hand high in the air behind him. He felt dizzy as he came down, and he wobbled for a moment. But
he righted himself just in time, barely touching the snow with his left hand.

Now he went into his third and final move. Coming up the wall, he held his breath. This was a difficult move. Dondi had never
done it successfully before today. Freddie had to nail it now or get an i. If he let Dondi win this match, he'd never hear
the end of it.

At the very top of the wall, Freddie twisted left, letting the board circle with him, and did a full 360° turn. He landed
perfectly and slid easily down the slope, fists raised high, to where his brother stood waiting.

“Ha!” Freddie shouted in triumph as he skidded to a stop. “In your face, dude!”

Dondi shook his head, his long dark hair held in place by the headband he wore all the time. “You missed the second move,”
he said flatly, crossing his arms with finality.

“I did not!” Freddie retorted, his voice rising to a squeaky pitch.

“Did too,” Dondi insisted. “I saw your hand hit the snow.”

“I just grazed it,” Freddie replied. “It was a good move.”

“You blew the move.”

“Did not, you jerk!” Freddie tried to move toward Dondi, but he'd forgotten he was still strapped to his board. He fell face
first into the snow. As he pushed himself up again, he heard Dondi's mocking laughter.

“Nice move, dweeb!” Dondi said. “That was a ten plus.”

“Shut up,” Freddie grumbled, unstrapping his feet.

“Make me,” Dondi said, motioning for Freddie to come at him.

“I will,” Freddie said. Springing up, he flew at Dondi, knocking him backward into the snow. The two brothers wrestled furiously,
rolling over and over, fists flying but mostly missing—until Dondi caught Freddie in the nose.

“Ow!” Freddie yelled. “Ow, ow, ow!” Drops of
blood reddened the snow beneath his head. “You broke my nose!”

“It's not broken, stupid,” Dondi scowled, taking off his gloves. He reached into his coat pocket and pulled out a wad of tissues.
“It's just a little blood. It's nothing. Here, use this. It'll be fine in a minute.”

“Leave me alone,” Freddie said, fighting back tears. He grabbed the tissues, held them to his nose, and turned his back on
his brother.

“Okay, okay, I'll leave you alone,” Dondi muttered. “Sorry about the bloody nose. It was an accident.”

“It was not,” Freddie shot back. “And I'm telling Papi.”

“Fine. Tell him,” Dondi said. “You started it anyway.”

“I did not!” Freddie screeched.

“I did not!” Dondi mimicked.

“Shut up before I kill you!” Freddie shouted.

“Oh, I'm really scared of a pipsqueak like you,” Dondi said. “Anyway, that's
p-i
for you. So now we're even.”

“It is not,” Freddie argued. “I don't want to play anymore.”

“Fine. Quitter,” Dondi said with a shrug. “I win by default.”

“Do not.”

“Do too.”

Just then, a car horn beeped in the parking lot behind them. “Papi's here,” Dondi said. “You'd better not make up a story
about your nose.”

“Yeah, right,” Freddie said, checking his nose to see if the bleeding had stopped. It had, but Freddie was still feeling bitter.
“How about I just show him these bloody tissues and see what he says?”

“Sure, go ahead. That's your whole life, getting me into trouble,” Dondi said, a touch of anger in his voice. “You're a little
tattletale.”

“I am not!”

“And you're a quitter, too,” Dondi persisted. “If you weren't, you'd go back up there and try to beat me fair and square.”

“I'm not going to keep Papi waiting,” Freddie said.

“Why not?” Dondi asked, staring off into the distance. “He's got nothing better to do.”

Freddie steamed. Their dad had lost his job a few months earlier. Dondi never lost an opportunity to comment about it behind
his back.

Freddie glanced at his watch. Their father was ten minutes early. Surely he wouldn't mind if the boys took one more run? “Okay,”
Freddie said, heading up the hill. “Just to show you who's better.”

This time down the hill, Freddie started out in fakie position and did a backside 180° indy, grabbing the board and using
his hand to turn it in midair. He repeated the move three times, nailing it each time, knowing Dondi stood no chance of landing
it even once. He reached the bottom and skidded to a stop right in front of—his father.

“Freddie,” Esteban Ruiz said. “Why didn't you come when I beeped for you? I don't have time to sit around and wait for you.”

“Sorry, Papi,” Freddie said, staring at the snow. “But Dondi–”

“And don't start blaming everything on your brother,” his father cut in. “This is between me and you. When I call you, you're
supposed to come right away.”

“I know, Papi,” Freddie said. “But–”

“No buts. Get that board off and let's go. Dondi's already in the car.”

Freddie silently removed the board from his feet,
tucked it under his arm, and trudged through the snow behind his father. Dondi had outwitted him again. He had probably run
straight for the car the minute Freddie started climbing the hill.

The old station wagon was idling in the parking lot, its windows fogged over. Dondi sat in the backseat, hunkered down with
a sly smile on his face. Freddie got in beside him and slammed the door. He shot Dondi a hateful look, but Dondi didn't return
it.

The sun had gone down and Esteban put on the headlights. He drove carefully through the hilly, icy roads. The town of Crestview
was nestled in the foothills of the Santa Elena Mountains. There were many ski resorts within an hour's drive of town, and
in winter most of the kids who were old enough could be found skiing, skating, or snowboarding somewhere in the hills and
mountains.

Dondi and Freddie had started skiing when they were very little. And a few years later, when snowboarding came along, they
were two of the first kids to try it. Right away, both Dondi and Freddie had taken to the sport. At first, Freddie was the
better of the two. He was a natural at boarding, as he was at
all sports. But Dondi soon caught up to him, thanks to his longer skiing experience. He was six inches taller than Freddie
and more muscular, too, due to a recent growth spurt. Freddie remained small and skinny. It wasn't long before they began
competing against each other on the slopes.

In fact, it seemed that Freddie and Dondi never missed a chance to compete. Even silly things—who was going to get the bigger
portion of dessert, who could shovel more snow out of the driveway, who could do the best imitation of their favorite TV characters—became
contests. Often, verbal battles turned into physical ones. Today's bloody nose was a typical result of their more recent tussles.

This tendency to fight drove both their parents up the wall. With Esteban at home searching for a new job and Aida working
longer hours than usual, the burden of keeping the peace fell mostly on their dad these days. That was the last thing his
dad needed, Freddie knew. Esteban was depressed about losing his job of fifteen years, even though it hadn't been his fault.
Breaking up constant arguments between his sons only made him more depressed. Freddie tried to stay out of fights, for his
dad's sake—but
with Dondi, that was next to impossible. Like right now, for instance.

“Get your leg off me!” Freddie growled, shoving Dondi's leg away. The leg had gradually crept across the backseat and had
ended up on top of Freddie's.

“I'm bigger than you. I need more space.” Dondi stretched theatrically. “It's not fair. Why can't I sit up front?”

“Because I don't want you fiddling with the radio,” Esteban said, glancing at Dondi in the rear-view mirror. “I don't like
the way you just reach over and turn that junky music up so loud. It hurts my ears.”

“It's not junky music!” Dondi said. “You just don't have any taste.”

Freddie burned with anger. “Don't talk to Papi like that,” he said.

“Shut up, squirt,” Dondi said. “I'll talk any way I want.”

“Boys, stop it, both of you!” Esteban said. “I'm driving the car, and the roads are slippery. You want to cause an accident?”

Freddie looked daggers at Dondi. Dondi's lips
mouthed,
I'll get you later.
Freddie looked away, struggling to keep his fury in check.

Dondi is such a big mouth, Freddie thought as he stared out into the darkness. Why did he have to be that way, anyway? Why
couldn't he have been the kind of brother other kids had?

The car pulled into the driveway, and they all piled out. “Don't start fighting again,” their dad warned them. “I've had a
tough enough day already.”

Freddie wondered what his dad meant, but he didn't ask. If Papi wanted to talk about what was bothering him, Freddie would
listen, for sure. But right now, nobody felt like talking.

Freddie's nose hurt, and he was bone-tired. He trudged up the stairs to his room and threw himself down on the bed to rest.

2

F
reddie's mother worked at a software company in Riverhead, forty-five minutes away. These days she never got home before six
o'clock. At five-thirty, Freddie heard Esteban in the kitchen, pulling down cans from the pantry shelves.

Freddie frowned. His dad wasn't much of a cook and didn't seem interested in learning how to become one, either. Freddie wasn't
going to complain, but he knew Dondi would. Another of Dondi's “wonderful” qualities, Freddie reflected sadly.

“Hey, squirt.” Freddie looked up to see his brother staring at him from the doorway.

“Get out of my room,” Freddie said immediately.

“Come on, forgive and forget,” Dondi said, coming into the room and sitting on the edge of Freddie's bed.

BOOK: Snowboard Showdown
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