AVSC athletes grow up at USASA’s nationals
For more than 15 years, Aspen/Snowmass has been home to one of USASA’s regional competition series.
The majority of Aspen Valley Ski and Snowboard Club’s Freeski and Snowboard athletes have grown up competing in the series and unlike many other events, they typically compete on the same day.
“Most of them go to school together and are friends. They all high-five and support each other at awards. It’s cool how it brings them together,” said Eric Knight, AVSC Freestyle and Freeride Program director
The USASA Aspen Snowmass Series has been an incredible resource for AVSC athletes over the years.
“It’s a great grassroots series for our kids to start learning the ins and outs of competing,” Knight said. “It’s nice because they don’t have to travel and spend a lot of money to get involved in entry-level competition.”
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Others have found their way to the series later in life. Vlad Kovalenko, who initially moved to Aspen in 2012 to work for the Forest Service, recently joined AVSC under its Snowboard Masters Program at the age of 27.
As a rookie, the USASA Aspen Snowmass Series has enabled Kovalenko to excel in his riding without breaking the bank.
“I’m still paying for my travel so I can’t really afford to go far away from Aspen to compete,” he said. “I’ve learned so much in such a short period this season. I feel like there’s a day-and-night difference in my snowboarding between when I started and now.”
Kovalenko has found success competing as an adaptive athlete in the upper limb category. The USASA Aspen Snowmass Series has been a great stepping stone, getting him to the next level of competition.
“USASA snowboard cross is awesome because it is the style of racing I do in Paralympic competitions,” Kovalenko said, “I was able to podium in two Paralympic events this year.”
As winter comes to an end, a lot ski and snowboard athletes are wrapping up their season at the USASA National Championships, taking place at Copper Mountain through today.
This competition is the highlight of the year for many AVSC snowboard and freeskiing athletes.
“Nationals have been awesome; I come out here every year,” said Robert Pettit, AVSC snowboard athlete. “They put on a good event here, and they know what they are doing. It’s super fun.”
This season the Aspen Snowmass Series sent 32 snowboarders and 19 skiers to the USASA National Championships for a total of 134 starts.
“It’s great for our athletes to test themselves against the best amateur riders from around the country,” said Miah Wheeler, AVSC Snowboard head coach and Aspen Snowmass Series director. “Regardless of the results, our athletes are always inspired going into summer and next season because of this event.”
USASA National Championships
The USASA National Championships continue at Copper Mountain. Chris Coring continues to excel, winning snowboard slopestyle in the Men’s Open Class category.
AVSC Freeskiing males dominated the field in the halfpipe with Cassidy Jarrell winning in the 16-18 category and Kai Morris taking first in the 10-12 category.
AVSC Alpine U14 women had a strong performance at the Loveland Derby with Stella Johansson taking second in slalom on Saturday and Allyson Cornelius winning slalom on Sunday.
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U.S. Ski & Snowboard on Monday announced three freeski and snowboard Olympic qualifying events ahead of the February Winter Games in Beijing, with stops scheduled at Steamboat, Copper Mountain and Mammoth Mountain.