While the top snowboarders in the world wrapped up competition at the Burton U.S. Open in Vail Saturday, freeskiers and snowboarders ranging in age from under 10 to over 50 took to the slopestyle course at Copper Mountain Resort for the final Rocky Mountain Series regional qualifier for the U.S.A. Snowboard and Freeski Association Nationals later this month, also at Copper.
“The competition today was awesome,” Rocky Mountain Series director Paul Krahulec said.
A reported 10 inches of fresh snow fell at Copper in the 24 hours prior to the event, but the skies cleared in time to give the athletes a bluebird day. Still, the new snow presented a tall order for the crews who set up the course.
“Conditions were challenging,” Krahulec said. “The park crew did an amazing job.”
Speed was an issue early in the competition, according to a number of competitors.
“The course was a little slow, but it got faster in the end,” Robby Brown, 17, of Steamboat Springs, said. Brown took second in the Open Skier Men division, scoring a 74.33. Gregory Spaulding, of Frisco, took top honors in that group. Lindsey Lumpkin, also of Frisco, took first in the Open Class Women’s division
Fellow Summit County residents laid claim to top spots in both the youngest and oldest age groups competing Saturday. Alina Cospolich of Team Summit won the 8-9 Grommet Girls category, and Julio Machado took first in the 50-59 Kahuna Men age group. Both competed unopposed in their divisions.
USASA is an amateur-level competition for freeskiers and snowboarders that can serve as a feeder to higher level events, including NorAms and the World Cup.
“This is the premier thing for getting kids into those big events,” Team Breckenridge and Hawkes Freeride coach Chris Hawkes said.
Past USASA competitors have included Olympians Aaron Blunck, slopestyle silver medalist Gus Kennworthy and bronze medalist Nick Goepper. Blunck, who last competed in USASA two seasons ago and is now a U.S. Freeskiing Team pro, was on hand to watch part of the competition.
USASA Nationals will be held at Copper Mountain later this month. All regional series winners, along with a number of nationally ranked USASA athletes, will receive invitations to compete. Regional series winners will be announced Wednesday. Other top-ranked competitors will receive invitations in the weeks leading up to nationals.