USASA competitions serve as the upper echelon for up and coming slopestyle and halfpipe competitors. Local skiers, as well as snowboarders, have been dominating the USASA scene and will be clear favorites for the nationals being held in Copper at the end of the season. Athletes from Ski & Snowboard Club Vail (SSCV) headed out in numerous directions last Saturday and Sunday to compete in a multitude of USASA series events. They headed to Breckenridge on Saturday to compete in slopestyle and then headed to Aspen on Sunday to compete in the Aspen series halfpipe competition. With a rail jam in Frisco thrown in the mix, it was quite a busy weekend. “All of the riders had fun under the lights at the rail jam and threw down the whole night. Numerous athletes landed first time tricks on the rail setup. Needless to say, we brought home the hardware this weekend,” said SSCV’s Snowboard coach William Rivera in reference to the medals they won.
The snowboarders that ride for SSCV have been taking the scene by storm with dozens of top ten finishes this season. With 145 competitors in the Slopestyle event at Breckenridge on Saturday, it was a large field. Ryan Wachendorfer, who snowboards for Salomon, Bonfire, and Nike 6.0, placed well in the open class men’s competition and ended in fourth. Mary Prantis rode well in the breaker girls category and ended in second at the slopestyle competition and also placed second at the rail jam. Kierra Brandenburg rode well at the rail jam and placed third behind Prantis. In the breaker boys category Dylan Okurowski showcased his rail skills placing third for the breaker boys in the rail jam and placing fifth in the slopestyle event. Ian Kalapos has been on a roll this season with some outstanding results. Kalapos placed second in the slopestyle event for the breaker boys, then headed up to Aspen on Sunday and placed third in the halfpipe competition. Cameron Chaney, also in the breaker boys category, rode consistently all weekend and placed third in the slopestyle event and fifth in the rail jam. Jack Coyne, riding with the younger guys, had a great weekend and ended in fourth at the slopestyle competition as well as fourth in the rail jam.
The slopestyle skiers were also out at Breckenridge showcasing their talent. Mitchell Lee from SSCV skied clean runs and landed in second place in the open men’s category. John Leonard, who has been on the podium all season, claimed a nice third place finish behind Lee. Leonard still insists that it’s his music choice that is making him ski so well. Maybe by the end of the season he will reveal his secret weapon, his playlist. Cole Pates, who’s brother just qualified for the Burton U.S. Open, showed that talent runs in the family and claimed a fourth place finish. “Despite the enveloping snow, everyone did really well. These guys are good at skiing whatever conditions are thrown their way,” said SSCV’s head freeskiing coach Peter O’Brien.
With nationals around the corner, and prize money on the line, these athletes continue to learn new and progressive tricks. Nationals in April will be composed of the top two skiers and snowboarders in every age class from every division across the country.