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USASA riders, coaches remember season

Boarders threw down hand-plants and face plants during the USASA’s South Tahoe Snowboard series, but one of the best plants by the end was a transplant.

Pro class rider Jaime Van Lanen didn’t start the South Tahoe snowboard series for reasons of proximity – he lives on Kings Beach. But by the time the series wrapped with Sunday’s snowboard cross at Sierra-at-Tahoe, the series won the rookie pro over. And he had won that division in the series.

“I started this year in the pro division, and I ended up winning my division again,” said Van Lanen, who won the South Shore senior men’s division last year, then went on to take the top spot in the division’s best freestyler at the USASA nationals in April at Telluride, Colo.



“If you win at nationals, it’ time to move up to the next level,” Van Lanen said.

Sunday’s final snowboard cross – a make-up from the postponed Feb. 26 event – and Saturday’s last slalom – a make-up from Feb. 27. Wrapped the South Shore Series season at Sierra. In addition to young home-hill Sierra rippers and the Heavenly Snowboard Foundation team, both of which have been strong throughout the series, hot local riders like David Muchnikoff, Adam de Vargas and Chris Wellhausen, who qualified for nationals in snowboard cross, posted strong finishes at the finale. More than 50 riders turned out for each of the last two events despite rough weather conditions.




“I think it was a pretty good turnout, being that we had to change the dates around for weather and some other events,” said Donna Vano, the local USASA director along with husband Alan.

Sierra obliged, sending racers down the Gauntlet snowboard cross course to wrap the series. The Gauntlet also was one of the pro courses for the Vans G Shock Triple Crown of snowboarding finale at the end of February at the resort.

“The boardercross course was so much fun,” Donna Vano said. “The snowboarding department and the race department were so on-top of things. As always, we were in heaven when we were at Sierra.”

It was another strong performance for the young teams from Heavenly and Sierra. Vano thanked the coaches from both teams – Heavenly honcho Ed McClain and Sierra star Brady Gunsch finished 1-2 in the senior men’s division while coaching their teams – and volunteers for their efforts.

“All the kids and the coaches were out, and I’d love to give a big thanks to all the coaching staffs from both groups,” Vano said.

“We really just had such a fun series, and we’re sending our 40 kids and adults to the championships.”

The USASA National Championships are March 27-April 1 at Waterville Valley, N.H.


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