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Four local snowboarders named to Jr. National Team

Aspen Times Staff Report

Four Aspen-area snowboarders will compete against the top junior riders on Earth in Italy this winter, having been appointed to the 2001 United States of America Snowboard Association (USASA) Junior National Team earlier this month.

The riders with the Aspen Valley Ski and Snowboard Club (AVSC) – Christian Mosiman, Cooper Hall, Jason Smith and Lera Nichols – will travel to Italy’s Sapaddo resort for the International Snowboarding Federation’s (ISF) Junior World Championships in the last week of March.

For 18-year-olds Mosiman and Hall, it will be their fourth and last trip to the ISF Junior World Championships, a competition for riders ages 15 to 18. This year’s appointment to the team is Smith’s third and Nichols’ first.

“This is huge for these kids,” said Ben Hall, the AVSC snowboard director and head coach who will travel extensively with the riders throughout the season. “It’s a prestigious team and the [Junior World Championships] event itself is phenomenal.”

All four riders have World Cup race experience, though they’ll compete in different disciplines in the ISF Junior World Championships.

In last year’s Junior World Championships, Mosiman took sixth in alpine riding, a combination of slalom and giant slalom racing. The reigning U.S. national slalom and overall alpine champ also won the U.S. national overall combined event, which involves slalom and giant slalom, as well as half-pipe and slope-style competitions.

At the Junior Worlds, Mosiman is slated to compete in alpine disciplines only, according to coach Hall.

Cooper Hall, the reigning U.S. national boardercross champ, also holds the current U.S. national combined overall title, a combination of alpine, freestyle and boardercross events.

In the Junior Worlds in March, Hall will compete in the overall combined category, which includes dual slalom, half-pipe and boardercross.

“He’ll be the only American going in that combined slot, but he’ll also be going for the boardercross title too,” Ben Hall said.

Jason Smith, 18, won the U.S. national slalom title in 1998, and he’ll be racing in the slalom and giant slalom disciplines for the Junior Worlds, he said.

Nichols, an 18-year-old student at Carbondale’s Colorado Rocky Mountain School, joins the USASA Junior National Team for the first time this season. She placed second in the combined slalom and giant slalom event at last year’s U.S. Nationals, and at the Junior Worlds, she’ll also be racing the alpine disciplines.

“We’ve been doing dryland training for the last couple months – they’re strong and they’ve been on snow for a couple weeks now and they’re ready,” Hall said.

The riders plan to launch their competitive season next weekend at the Vans Triple Crown of Snowboarding in Breckenridge, where a purse of $125,000 is at stake.


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