USASA Nationals is the premiere competition for up and coming park and pipe skiers and snowboarders. With the snowboarders wrapping up their event last week, it was the skier’s turn to shine. Over 1,000 athletes of all ages came out for the event to try their luck against some of the best. Vail skiers haven’t always been known for their park abilities, but that is changing due to a local core crew. The freesking group continues to get noticed and has helped cultivate a new breed of skiers in the Vail area. Park and pipe skiers in Ski & Snowboard Club Vail’s freeski program grabbed their twin tips and headed to Copper to compete in halfpipe, slopestyle, and skier cross.
Aaron Milligan started things off right on Sunday by landing in third place during day one of the men’s 13-15 slopestyle competition with a smooth run. Meanwhile, over on the skier cross course, young Izak Little had an outstanding event winning the boy’s 10-12 age class group. Broby Leeds and John Leonard have been on an incredible winning streak this season and it came as no surprise when they ended on the podium during the open men’s halfpipe competition. Leeds recently placed second in Junior Worlds in Italy, and Leonard has won numerous USASA events this season. After runs with technical 900’s and huge amplitude Leeds ended in third and Leonard ended in second during the pipe competition. “All of these guys have been working super hard this season, be it hiking the halfpipe to get that trick dialed, hiking the airbag on Golden Peak, or just skiing from 9 to close, they have put in the work and it has showed,“ said SSCV’s freeski coach Peter O’Brien.
In Monday’s competition’s it was Leeds who matched his podium spot from the day before by placing third in slopestyle. Leonard was close behind in fourth. Tuesday is another day of competition for the rising stars, so keep your eyes looking in the air if you are headed to Copper.