Hotels were overbooked. Restaurants were overflowing. And the slopes were overrun with snowboarders as Telluride, Colorado hosted the 11th annual United States of America Snowboard Association’s National Championships March 26-31.
More than 850 snowboarders ranging in age from under seven to over 60 traveled across the nation and even across the globe to compete. Some had hopes of bringing home a gold, others hoped to cross the finish line, but overall, attendees were hoping for a good time.
The competition was divided into five disciplines: Boardercross, Giant Slalom, Halfpipe, Slalom, and Slopestyle. Competitors were grouped together by sex and age, and those categories are separated into four groups that rotated from each venue during the four-day event.
With a marginal snow season, Telluride staff kept their fingers crossed. But sunshine and higher temperatures the first three days of competition made for some wet, slushy snow in the afternoons. Colder temps at night caused the courses to be icy in the mornings, forcing some of the events to be pushed back a few hours. But generally the event ran smoothly.
With the ISF Junior Worlds starting just a few days later, this year’s USASA championships saw more international competitors than in years past. There were even a couple of young boys from Yugoslavia. And while USASA rules allow for international competitors to join the fun, they can not take the title to an event. A few times we saw an American standing on the first place podium next to an international athlete. Snowboarding truly does bring the world together in peace and harmony, doesn’t it?
The addition of Boardercross this year added some extra competition, as well as casualties. Murmurs of poor course construction and bad snow conditions were heard among the crowd as ski patrol dashed down the course several times during the Open Class races on day three. The event was eventually shut down by the ski patrol and remaining heats were concluded the next day. Regardless of rumors, the truth remains that boardercross is a brutal event and injuries are to be expected.
Results included several repeat winners as well as first timers. For complete results, log on to the USASA Web site at: http://www.usasa.org/nationals/results.html. My personal favorites were the Ruggie girls and boys (the seven and under group). Seeing the enthusiasm and talent these tiny ones have already is inspiring. Plus, some of these kids could kick my ass in the pipe. Talk about motivation to start practicing!
All in all, the USASA championships in Telluride was a feel good event. Team support was in full force, sportsmanship was in effect, and the all-important network of parental volunteers helped keep the event moving as they have since the beginning.