Words by Jon Lang
Photos by VAST Action, Natalie Aldrich & Jason Kelley
USASA Nationals recently wrapped up after two weeks of events at Copper Mountain, Colorado. If you are unfamiliar with the United States of America Snowboard and Freeski Association (USASA), it is the largest grassroots/amateur skiing and snowboarding events organization in the world, offering freestyle ski and snowboard events to 32 regions in America from Alaska to Southern California and all the way across the country as far as Maine, and is growing larger each and every year. USASA was founded by surf and snowboard coach and enthusiast Chuck Allen back in 1988 and has helped make snowboarding what it is today, from its stellar athletes along with producing a legacy of snowboard and ski judging education and professionalism. The roots of ski competitions being judged today trace all the way back to Chuck Allen and his vision to see amateur snowboarders recognized through a new growing sport. You can argue that freestyle skiing is not a new sport anymore, but you definitely cannot argue its annual growth.
Freeskiing was introduced to the USASA around 2008 and has grown tremendously since then, now seeing over 1,000 regional competitors across the country and nearly 500 competitors at Nationals this year between the three disciplines of halfpipe, slopestyle and skier cross. This was the first year that USASA has offered a National competition to skiers separate from snowboarding, and it will soon be recognized as a milestone year in freeskiing and USASA history. The past years have seen skiers and snowboarders compete in the same venues on the same days and consequently the same judging panels. The problem with that situation was venue capacity mixed with judging specificity. Not only does a separate Nationals week allow for more skiers to be invited to the pinnacle event of their season, but it also paved the way for ski-specific judges to be brought in, not only just to judge the week of skiing, but also to be a part of a professional and well-run event management organization. This week top level professional ski judges were stoked to see kids learning new tricks and testing their boundaries in this progression-rich environment. With skiing icons like Steele Spence and Andy Woods head judging the slopestyle and halfpipe events, and experienced judges from world class ski opens and a tremendous history of judging experience from USASA all collaborating with them, it’s safe to say that this event is getting the proper attention to fulfill its maximum potential.
USASA also applied this year to the Association of Freeskiing Professionals (AFP) for the Open Class Men’s and Women’s Slopestyle and Halfpipe competitions to be awarded points as a part of AFP’s ranking system. USASA Ski Nationals was granted Bronze status and the podium finishers all earned a rank among freeskiing’s most elite athletes.
Freeskiing is high on USASA’s radar and they definitely know what it is like to start something from scratch. USASA is continually looking for more ways to accommodate the freeskiing community and help it grow. The sport has come a long ways in the past two decades and now with ski halfpipe being recognized as an Olympic Sport, USASA is more than ready to offer events for amateur skiers all across America who aspire to one day be an Olympian representing their country. Some of the best snowboarders in the world started out by shredding in their local USASA series, and one day found themselves in an Olympic halfpipe and even on podiums in front of the entire world. Will you do the same?
(Top 3 Open Class only, for more results click here)
1) Peter Crook
2) Aaron Blunck
3) Lyman Currier
1) Maddie Bowman
2) Kendall Deighan
3) Annalise Johnson
1) Cody Cirillo
2) Lyman Currier
3) Kyle Smaine
1) Emilia Wint
2) Julia Marino
3) Annalise Johnson
Click here for more info on USASA, and to see how this event affects the AFP rankings, go to http://www.afpworldtour.com.