Snowboard series has Tahoe’s attention |

Snowboard series has Tahoe’s attention

David Gignilliat, Tribune Staff Writer

USASA South Shore Series co-director Alan Vano has a pleasant ‘problem’ on his hands. Much like a basketball coach with a glut of star players fighting for minutes, Vano has enjoyed a bird’s-eye view of snowboarding’s development from a casual, recreational activity to a bona fide worldwide sport.

The sport’s growth was never more evident than at Heavenly last weekend, where a record-high 180 area racers hit the slopes for a USASA event.

“It definitely was one of the best events we had yet,” said Vano of the largest event in the area’s 10-year history. “(The series) is getting bigger and bigger each event. It kind of freaks me out when I look at the numbers.”

When they hand me the start list and it says 180 (competitors), I just about fell over,” Vano joked.

Boarders competed in age groups ranging from ‘ruggies’ (ages 7-8) and masters (ages 30-39), including a large percentage of racers from Heavenly and Sierra-at-Tahoe resorts. The halfpipe competition took place on Saturday, followed by Sunday’s boardercross races.

Heavenly boarders were once again among some of the top racers at the series event. In boarder X, Elena Hight (8-9 girls), Roger Carver (8-9 boys), William Goldenberg (12-13 boys), Mitchell Karadanis (40-49 men), Sophie Karadanis (girls 14-15), Jimi Tomer (14-15 boys) and Ed McClain (23-29 men) all placed first in their age divisions. In halfpipe competition, Carver (boys 8-9) and Jeff Kaczmar (boys 12-13) pulled down the top spots for Heavenly Ski Foundation racers.

Top finishers in the halfpipe events for Sierra included Katrina Clapp (fourth) and Erin Craig (sixth) in the girls 16-17 division. Alissa Zertuche (seventh, girls 18-22), Joanie Anderson (first, girls 12-13), Stacie Anderson (first, ages 10-11) and Stephanie Warren (first, women’s 23-29) rounded out notable performances from Sierra’s female competitors. On the boys side, Ari Giovenco (fourth, ages 14-15), Keelan Gardiner (second, ages 10-11), Stephen Massa (eighth, ages 10-11) and Sierra coach Brady Gunsch (first, ages 18-22) scored well on the halfpipe.

In Sunday’s boardercross, Clapp, Craig, Warren, Gunsch and both Anderson sisters placed in the top five in their respective age divisions.

Vano, whose wife Donna placed first in her division in halfpipe, said he is pleased with the snowboarding’s burgeoning popularity.

“I guess snowboarding has just grown dramatically over the last few years. A lot of that has to with the fact that it’s now an Olympic sport,” Vano said. “Parents are pushing their kids to pursue it and get good at it as well. It’s no longer just a ‘dude’ kind of a sport.”

The next USASA series race will be a Jan. 30-31 boardercross/halfpipe event at Kirkwood.

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