by Sally Francklyn
The USASA (United States Snowboard and Freeski Association) is building a community of skiers and riders, rather than being just a competition. Tricia Byrnes, the Marketing Manager for USASA, said the regional events are “Where winter kids hone their skills, meet their friends, and embark on an Olympics, World Cup, or X Games career.” USASA is a great way to get a taste of competing in winter sports activities.
These events vary in ages, and you can compete anywhere from 7 and under to 65 and older. Say you’re 63 and you want to retire from your existing job, yet you’ve always had a knack for skiing fast and taking chances. You can dive into competing, even at age 65. With 32 regional qualifying events across the country, you can probably find one near you. These regional events are a good way to progress your skill doing a specific trick, and more practice means better qualifying scores for the Nationals, and maybe ultimately, the Olympics.
According to Byrnes, “It’s not just about winning, though. It’s about having a place to progress and grow.” Based on the massive age range, you can be awarded at all levels of your career path. Skiers and riders of all ages can work on advancing their skills competitively, while making friends along the way. From the regional event series, the top competitors will earn a spot at Nationals, which have been held at Copper Mountain for the past 12 years.
Although USASA Nationals seems like a park and pipe competition, there are a wide range of disciplines, including Slalom and Giant Slalom. Depending on your scores, you can demonstrate your proficiency at a World Cup event, and eventually, maybe the Olympics. Some Olympians got their start at USASA, including Chris Klug, who won a bronze medal in snowboarding Parallel Giant Slalom at the Salt Lake City Olympics in 2002, Vic Wild, (who was born an American citizen and now competes for Russia) won two gold medals in parallel slalom and parallel giant slalom in snowboarding at the 2014 Olympics in Sochi, and recently, Red Gerard (who lives in Silverthorne) won gold in snowboard slopestyle at the 2018 PyeongChang Winter Olympics for Team USA.
To develop your skills, make friends, and travel around the country (and even the world), USASA is a great place to get your feet wet. By practicing what the judges will consider clean runs, good tricks, progression of riding, and the overall impression, USASA is a great way to progress. You can watch the Nationals at Copper Mountain March 30- April 10.