Local snowboarders are gearing up for the first round of the amateur competition series offered through USASA, as the first event in the SoCal series at Snow Summit and Bear Mountain hits the slopes on December 13. According to co-organizer Holly Gardner, “The USASA series is open to everyone. It’s not just snowboarders, but skiers, too, since there are five different competitions, including giant slalom, slalom, slopestyle, half-pipe and boardercross. It’s for all levels and ages—my sons Drayden and Talon each started when they were five, and we’ve had a snowboarder in his 70s who competes with us, too.”
There are seven events planned for our local slopes, as the Big Bear area is home to the SoCal series, which filters in to the United States of America Snowboard Association’s National Championships. In the 2009 series, seven members of the SoCal team placed at nationals: Bear Mountain employee Val Stepanchuk placed first in the men’s open class; Melissa Spillman took first in the women’s senior bracket (ages 23-29); Devin Allen and Evan Heckman took third and fourth in the junior men ages 16-17 category; Matthew Marvin placed fourth for youth men ages 14-15; Sammy Swanson placed in the top 10 for boys ages 10-11 in the menehune division; and, for grommet boys, Drayden Gardner ranked ninth in the nation among boys ages 8 and 9.
For the upcoming December 13 event, a giant slalom at Summit, all riders and skiers are welcome to participate, as the GS is open to all ages and skill levels—however, participants are encouraged to sign up soon, online at USASA.org. “We’re the SoCal series,” Gardner reminds, “so visit the SoCal tab on the USASA website. All the competitions are $30 apiece, though $45 for the dual events. We have huge raffles at every contest, so everybody who enters gets an opportunity at a prize. We also have first, second and third place medals for each division, boys and girls.”
Those involved in the amateur slope series are also trying to start a coaching program this year and, Gardner notes, “We’re working to raise money to pay the kids’ entry fees for nationals. If they’re in first place in their division at the end of the season, they get an invitation to go.” This year’s USASA Nationals will be held at Copper Mountain, Colorado in April’s first week—but, first, the GS at Summit next weekend!