March madness to shift to mountains for USASA nationals
National championship madness in March isn’t exclusively a basketball phenomenon – it extends to the snowboard parks and race courses where 45 South Shore qualifiers will chase titles.
Last year, the South Shore brought home more championships from the United States of America Snowboard Association 2000 National Championships at Telluride, Colo. This year, it could be even bigger, with an additional handful of South Shore riders heading to nationals, today through Saturday, at Waterville Valley, N.H.
The Heavenly Ski Foundation snowboard team leads the pack at New Hampshire with 19 qualifiers, 16 of whom will compete at nationals. The 20 independents from the South Shore series come next, and Sierra-at-Tahoe qualified eight riders for the event.
National overall champion Elena Hight, 10, and snowboard cross champ Dustin Singler, 19, both return with the Heavenly snowboard team that brought 15 national titles and three overall championships back from Telluride last season. Hight brought back five gold medals – one for every event she entered – last season, and qualified again in the menehune (age 10-11) girls division.
“I’m doing a lot better than last year, and I’m trying a lot of new tricks,” Hight said. “I think I’m going to do really well.”
Hight’s week at nationals begins Wednesday with slalom and snowboard cross, and the young rider is looking forward to the final day of the competition when she’ll get a chance to show what she’s learned in the halfpipe this year. Hight has supplemented her 540s with a 720, which she’s landed in the pipe this season.
In addition to the two returning national champions, Heavenly snowboard coach Ed McClain pointed to youth men (age 14-15) division entrant Jimi Tomer as a rider with potential to make an impact in New Hampshire, along with Drew Waggoner, Will Goldenberg or Jesse Bradford. Even though the team has set its sights high, McClain knows other regions are gunning for the South Shore riders.
“Obviously, we hope to do as well this year,” he said. “Each year, the competiton has been tougher and tougher. They’re gunning for us. There are a lot of regions out there that want that overall title.”
Tomer has qualified in both Alpine disciplines – slalom and giant slalom – both freestyle events – halfpipe and slopestyle – and is looking to qualify late for snowboard cross. Despite returning from successive broken collarbones, he feels good about his chances in snowboard cross. He’s also been working on making his freetyle runs smooth and solid.
“I’ve just been working on being really consistent and big smooth runs and getting all my grabs down,” Tomer said.
While Sierra’s team is smaller in number, it could have a big impact. The team qualified virtually all its membership of young riders – Harrison Kramer in the ruggie boys (7 and younger) division; Jamie Anderson in the grommet (8-9 years old) division; Coral Warren and Stacie Anderson in the menehune girls division; Keelan Gardiner in the breaker (12-13) boys division; Joanie Anderson in the breaker girls division; and Erin Craig in the junior (16-17) girls division. They will join coaches Nikki Warren and Brady Gunsch at nationals, and Gunsch himself will pursue gold in the senior men’s division, along with Heavenly coach Travis Chatwin.
“Even though we’re a small team we’ve all trained so hard,” Nikki Warren said. “The South Shore division pretty much rules the whole nation.”
The coach likes her riders’ chances, especially those of Gardiner – who had the fastest runs overall in a recent South Shore Series snowboard cross at Sierra – as well as of her daughter, Coral, and Joanie and Stacie Anderson.
“Even though they’re young, they’re the best,” Nikki Warren said of the South Shore riders in the menehune girls division. “They ride like they’re older.”
Coral Warren, Stacie Anderson and Elena Hight take their friendly rivalry in the South Shore series to the national stage.
“There usually is a lot of girls, but usually it’s just me, Stacie and Elena who are at the top of the podium,” Coral Warren, 10, now a fourth-year USASA nationals veteran, said.
“I have to just try my 150 (percent) and I think I have a pretty good chance.”
Nationals begin today and take place on Waterville Valley’s Boneyard terrain park, Tyler run halfpipe, and at the slalom, giant slalom and snowboard cross courses around the mountain. Results are available online at usasa.org.
South Shore Series qualifiers
USASA 2000 National Championships
Ruggie (7 and younger) boys
Grommet girls (8-9)
Menehune (10-11) boys
Breaker (12-13) boys
Youth (14-15) men
Junior (16-17) men
Jam (18-22) men
Senior (23-29) men
Master (30-39) men
Legend (40-49) men
Kahuna (50-59) men
Pro am men
Jaime Van Lanen
Italics indicate South Shore riders who qualified but won’t compete in nationals
Support Local Journalism
Support Local Journalism
Readers around the Lake Tahoe Basin and beyond make the Tahoe Tribune's work possible. Your financial contribution supports our efforts to deliver quality, locally relevant journalism.
Now more than ever, your support is critical to help us keep our community informed about the evolving coronavirus pandemic and the impact it is having locally. Every contribution, however large or small, will make a difference.
Your donation will help us continue to cover COVID-19 and our other vital local news.
Start a dialogue, stay on topic and be civil.
If you don't follow the rules, your comment may be deleted.
User Legend: Moderator Trusted User
SOUTH LAKE TAHOE, Calif. — After six weeks and too many indoor practices due to snow covered courts, the South Tahoe tennis team capped off its season this past week.