Local riders primed for USASA nationals
SUMMIT COUNTY – Imagine 1,400 athletes moving into a ski town for a week. Add on another couple thousand family members, friends and coaches, and you have the world’s largest snowboard event: the annual USA Snowboard Association (USASA) National Championships.The best amateur riders from around the country – including plenty of Summit County locals – are set to meet at Northstar in northern Lake Tahoe during the first week of April to vie for national titles in boardercross (BX), slopestyle, halfpipe, giant slalom (GS) and slalom (SL) events in age categories ranging from 7 to 70 years old.USASA is a grassroots organization that hosts more than 500 competitions in 35 regions at about 200 resorts across the nation. Only the best in their respective age groups are invited to compete at the national competition, and there’s a slew of talented local riders who made the cut by winning the 2006-07 Copper Series.
One kid to watch for on the podium is 13-year-old Mike Campbell of Frisco, who specializes in halfpipe and slopestyle. At the upper end of his age group, Breaker Boys 12-13, he’s pulling off moves that can win. He is sponsored by Planet Earth and Nike 6.0, and is a member of Team Summit and the Breckenridge Freeride Team. Dillon’s Flynt Doyal, an explosive freestyle rider who won the Menehune Boys age group (10-11) title in halfpipe and slopestyle, is a veteran to national competition. Doyal sees the week as “a chance to hang out with friends.” But those friends will have to match his frontside 540 in the pipe or his corked backside 540 in slopestyle. He is sponsored by Planet Earth, Salomon and Henry Barr and RE/MAX Properties of the Summit, and is a member of Team Summit and the Breck Freeride Team.Fifteen-year-old Ali Khavari of Breckenridge is another fearless freestyler with a good chance to medal. (He also has qualified for BX, which he admits is not his specialty.) Along with Doyal and Campbell, Khavari trains with Team Summit six days a week and has no complaints about his winter schedule: “It’s awesome!” Also from Breck, Carissa Comp will go for the national title (and cash prizes) in halfpipe in the women’s open class; Jesse Csincsak is scheduled to compete in the men’s open class pipe title.
Alpine specialist Nicolas Basica, 15, of Breck will represent the Copper Series in GS and SL. Basica was also a ski racer for Team Summit until he chose to concentrate on alpine snowboarding under specialist Sean McCarron of the Copper Mountain Race Department. Basica’s age group is packed with “hardbooter” talent and up to 80 racers in the field, but he has seven years of experience in competing at the national level.From Silverthorne is Brandy Willette, competing in the master men (30-39) BX, and Andrew Bruce in master men GS and SL.Stephanie Carpenter of Dillon is scheduled to compete in slopestyle and halfpipe in women’s jams (18-22).The National Championships established a Disabled Class in 2000, and the competitions have been fast and furious, but there are not enough athletes yet to divide into separate disabilities or genders. All disabled racers who compete receive a gold medal. Eventually, the disabled riders hope to get snowboarding events included in the Paralympics, which are held every four years following the Olympic Games at the same host resort.
In 2008, Copper Mountain is scheduled to host the Nationals, and locals will have an opportunity to see future stars close up. Some notable riders who have climbed up the ranks through USASA competitions are Shaun White, Ross Powers, Lindsey Jacobellis and Hana Beaman, as well as Minturn resident Clair Bidez, a U.S. Snowboard Team member and X Games mainstay.For more information about USASA, national rankings, rider profiles or event schedules, visit http://www.usasa.org.Longtime snowboarder Cindy Kleh is a Winter Park resident and freelance writer who has qualified to compete in GS, slalom and boardercross at nationals.
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