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February 22, 2013
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Strong season for Heavenly Foundation Freeride Team

The Heavenly Ski and Snowboard Foundation Freeride Team is tearing up the hill this year in USASA competitions.

USASA (United States Ski and Snowboard Association) is divided across the nation into series. Athletes compete for top spots in slopestyle, halfpipe and skier-cross, against others in their series. Points are awarded for each event and only the best of the best earn an invite to the National Championships in Copper Mountain, Colo., in April.

New to the competition scene this year are skiers Sam Ward (boys 10-12) and Clayton Long (men 13-15). The two have stepped up with strong showings in all events so far.

"For a first year athlete on my team to decide to compete is a huge hurdle in itself," said coach Jeremy Witters. "These guys are going out and pitting themselves against other athletes with more experience. Win or not, they are coming away not only as stronger skiers, but stronger individuals as well."

Skier Cole Lyon (men 13-15) has been focused and driven all season, working hard on his airs in order to be a bigger threat on the slopestyle course. His hard work was rewarded with a couple trips to the podium, including three first-place finishes.

Teammate Ethan "Big-E" Kulchin (boys 9 and under) continues to impress with his no-fear attitude, huge airs and a focus level well beyond his age, Witters said.

"Big-E is an amazing skier. At only 9-years-old he is airing three feet out of the halfpipe, jumping 50-foot tabletops and sliding rails kids double his age would think twice about, Witters said. "His reckless determination used to scare me, but Ethan has shown time and time again he's got the skills. It's pretty cool."

Regional competitions continue with skier-cross and boarder-cross at Sierra-at-Tahoe Feb. 23. Halfpipe competition No.1 and No. 2 will be at Heavenly Mountain Resort on Feb. 24, and the third halfpipe competition will be held at Sierra on March 3. Once the season results are total the top regional athletes in each age group and discipline will begin receiving invites to the USASA National Championships, April 5-10 at Copper Mountain, Colo.

The national event is the largest of its kind in the world and will feature the top 60-80 athletes in each age group and discipline competing for top honors in the nation.

For any information on the Heavenly Foundation Freeride Team, or to make a donation to help get these athletes to Nationals please contact Foundation director Aimi Xistra-Rich at 530-314-9285.

HSSF Results

Slopestyle

Ethan Kulchin (skier boys 9 and under)

Jan. 13 - first

Jan. 26 - first

Jan. 26 - first

Sam Ward (skier boys 10-12)

Jan. 13 - second

Jan. 26 - fourth

Jan. 26 - seventh

Clayton Long (skier men 13-15)

Jan. 13 - fifth

Jan. 26 - sixth

Jan. 26 - seventh

Cole Lyon (skier men 13-15)

Jan. 13 - first

Jan. 26 - fourth

Jan. 26 - third

Rail jam

Ethan Kulchin

Jan. 12 - first

Feb. 15 - first

Feb. 17 - first

Feb. 17 - first

Sam Ward

Jan. 12 - second

Feb. 17 - second

Clayton Long

Jan. 12 - fifth

Feb. 17 - fourth

Cole Lyon

Jan. 12 - first

Feb. 17 - first

Skier-cross

Ethan Kulchin

Jan. 27 - first

Sam Ward

Jan. 27 - second

Clayton Long

Jan. 27 - eighth

Cole Lyon

Jan. 27 - sixth


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Tahoe Daily Tribune Updated Feb 22, 2013 10:06PM Published Feb 22, 2013 10:05PM Copyright 2013 Tahoe Daily Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.