USASA Nationals slide into Copper | SummitDaily.com

USASA Nationals slide into Copper

BRYCE EVANS
summit daily news
Summit County, Colorado

The numbers speak for themselves: six days, 36 events and 1,544 competitors. So, saying that the 2009 United States of America Snowboard Association Nationals isn’t just any other snowboarding and freeskiing competition would be a bit of an understatement.

“This event is a different type of animal ” it’s just massive,” USASA executive director Jason Toutolmin said.

Beginning with practice sessions on Saturday and official competition on Sunday, the 20th annual national competition kicks off on Copper Mountain, featuring some of the future stars of the sport.

In 36 different events from Sunday through Friday, athletes ranging in age from 7-70 will compete for national titles in halfpipe, slopestyle, boardercross, slalom and giant slalom.

“It’s a lot different than your ordinary pro event where you can say, ‘This is on this day,'” Toutolmin said of the hectic schedule. “Here, Saturday is practice, then there’s competitions every single day.”

All competitions will take place in the morning over the six days starting at 7:50 a.m. The boardercross events will be held on Vein Glory; the slopestyle will be in the Catalyst Terrain Park; the slalom and giant slalom races will be on Copperopolis; and the pipe competitions will be in the Main Vein superpipe. For a detailed schedule of events, visit http://www.usasa.org.

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A highlight to the week may be the Open category, which will hold it’s slalom and giant slalom races on Monday and Tuesday, halfpipe on Wednesday, slopestyle on Thursday and boardercross on Friday.

“The Open class is essentially the next pros in the sport,” Toutolmin said. ” … A lot of our youth and junior (level competitors) will put up just as good of riding, though.”

The USASA Nationals has been a launching platform for nearly every major name in snowboarding. Shaun White, Hannah Teter and Danny Kass are all former competitors. In 2001, Teter finished in sixth place in the 14-15 age group at nationals. Five years later, she was an Olympic gold medalist.

“It just shows that you’re seeing the future of the sport at this event,” Toutolmin said of Teter’s tale.

There are a number of local Summit County competitors hoping to be the next to make their name in the event.

The Team Summit snowboard squad has 12 athletes competing, ranging in age from 9-18. Chase Blackwell, 9, Linsea Lumpkin, 11, and Nate Latimer, 13, all qualified through impressive seasons in the Rocky Mountain Snowboard Series. Phil Hanson, 12, Austin McGrain, 15, Halley Soderholm, 12, Sarah Khavari, 15, and Ali Khavari all received invitations into the field, as did Dew Tour contestants Zack Black, 18, and Brett Esser, 16.

In addition to handing out USASA hardware this coming week, the CBS Alt Games will be held simultaneously. The Alt Games is the college action sports championships, and the finals will be held on Thursday.

The USASA is a grassroots snowboard organization with more than 5,000 members who compete in more than 500 events in 36 regional series across the country.