COPPER MOUNTAIN, Colorado. April 3, 2015. Registration opened Friday morning at 8:00 am (April 3) for the USASA Freeskiing National Championships and business was brisk as the first of the over 600 skiers expected arrived with coaches, parents, sponsors and assorted supporters.
Interestingly enough, many of the competitors making their way through the process of turning in their final paperwork, getting their credential, bib and sway bag were attending their first National Championships event. Additionally, many of the HoleShot Tour Skiercross competitors were at Copper Mountain for their extra practice time.
Eight year-old Ben Fethke from Boise, ID has a busy first National Championships ahead of him. The youngster, who was with his mother, explained that he will be competing in every event – Skiercross, Slopestyle, Halfpipe and Rail Jam. When asked if he was nervous young Ben commented, “I think Slope (style) is the most fun, it’s what I’m best at.” He went on to say that he’d been able to practice in the Halfpipe at Park City last week during his school’ Spring Break vacation week and he was looking forward to that event as well.”
Jim Ward from Queensbury, NY and the Adirondack Series was handing out competitor bibs as one of the hundreds of volunteers who help make the USASA National Championships a success. “I have fun meeting the athletes and being a part of the excitement, it’s rewarding spiritually,” he remarked about his volunteer position. Jim reported that the twenty-sixth annual National Championships are the third he’s attended with his two sons, ages Bryant, 12 and James, 13. A third son, Zavry, 8, was looking forward to competing in his first National Championships this year but was injured just as the family left for Colorado. He is here to support his brothers nonetheless.
Ten year-old Andy Homer is representing the Appalachian Series at his first USASA National Championships. He reports that he’ll be doing the Slopestyle competition in the 10-12 year-old age group.
A Rocky Mountain Series competitor who elected to remain anonymous is at Copper Mountain for his fourth or fifth USASA National Championships. “It’s a lot of fun, I love coming to USASA National Championships. I get to see the friends I’ve made over the years who I only get to see at Nationals.”
A young Michigan competitor was checking in at registration for the first time. Asked if he was nervous, he answered affirmatively. “That 22’ Halfpipe makes me nervous, we only have 15’ pipes at home,” he explained.
Quinn McGunnigle is a NorAm Skiercross competitor from Vermont and a student at Johnson State College. “I’m really happy the event we lost at Squaw was rescheduled here at Copper with the USASA,” he said. “I haven’t had a great season because I was injured during training at the second event. It’s our last event so I hope I can do well.”
A Stratton, Vermont skier who’ll compete in the 16-18 year-old age group reported that this year’s National Championships is his eighth. This year he’ll be doing Slopestyle although he’s been on the podium in the past for the overall title. “It was 2011 or 2012,” he said.
Several other NorAm competitors were in the registration area also getting their credentials for today’s additional practice time, slated for 10:00 am – 2:00 pm. One reported that he’s previously competed in USASA events. So why is the NorAm part of the USASA National Championships this year? The weather has been very challenging and NorAm events have been cancelled. The USASA worked with the USSA and Copper Mountain Resorts to present this opportunity for Open Class athletes. Combining the groups allows for an increased field size and will provide an excellent opportunity for athletes to earn points and prize money.