Trips to nationals go through SOS series | SummitDaily.com

Trips to nationals go through SOS series

Jason Starr

SUMMIT COUNTY – The road to nationals will once again be paved by the Snowboard Outreach Society.

The Society’s competitive series will provide an avenue for regional riders to qualify for the United States of America Snowboard Association (USASA) national championships, March 24-30 in Sunday River, Maine.

The 16-stop Snowboard Outreach Society (SOS) tour has events in Keystone, Breckenridge, Beaver Creek, Vail and Steamboat Springs. Five snowboarding disciplines are represented: boardercross, slopestyle, halfpipe, slalom and giant slalom.

The SOS tour has the “largest amateur competitor base in the nation,” according to series director Mike Gehard. Snowboarders on the local club, Team Summit, use the SOS tour as the main focus of the season and to earn spots at nationals. Similar squads in Steamboat and Vail do the same, making it a high level series, especially for young competitors.

“We definitely have some hard-core kids,” Gehard said.

But you don’t have to have national aspirations to enter an event. Riders – and for the second year, skiers – of all ages and abilities are welcome. Age classes range from 7-and-under to 60-and-over.

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In addition to aspiring, young, mountain-town riders, the series attracts Front Rangers and even vacationers who want to throw their skills into the arena. Gehard is trying to raise awareness of the series at Front Range colleges and ski shops.

“It’s a market we’re probably not making full use of,” he said.

SOS caps registration at 150 riders per event, but the biggest events last year reached just over 100 competitors.

“We’d love to have 150 people at every contest,” Gehard said. “Hopefully, someday we’ll hit that number every weekend.”

Based on last year’s registration, slopestyle and boardercross are the most popular of the five events. The Breckenridge leg of the tour, in February, features halfpipe, slopestyle and boardercross.

The series will send an as-yet undetermined number of snowboarders to nationals. The allotment is based on registration numbers. Skiers in the contests won’t get national qualifying points.

“We just throw them into the open category and keep track of them separately,” Gehard said of the two-plankers.

SOS is encouraging online registration at http://www.active.com. Those interested can also call (970) 845-7040 or go to http://www.sosoutreach.org. Registration will also be available the day of the event.

All proceeds from the series go to SOS’s charitable side. SOS is a nonprofit organization based in Vail that is dedicated to serving underprivileged youth through snowboard outings.

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