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2019 USASA National Championships Come To A Close

By Andrew Gauthier
April, 11 2019
Copper Mountain Nationals
Fans packing in at the Copper Mountain base area for the 2019 USASA National Championships. (USASA - Chad Buchholz)

Eleven jam-packed days of snowboard and freeski action came to a snowy conclusion on Wednesday at Colorado’s Copper Mountain Resort, as a hugely-successful 2019 USASA National Championships closed out with the final freeski halfpipe, slopestyle, and ski cross competitions despite a deep low pressure system bringing a heavy dose of April snow to the Rockies.

In its 30th year, the Nationals is the largest competition of its kind in the world and is part of a robust pipeline that carries athletes from the USASA Regional events all the way to Olympic level competition. The performances witnessed over the last two weeks provide a sense of confidence that the future of freeskiing and snowboarding competition is a bright one. 

While the top-level Open class competitions saw some of the best young riders in the country pushing boundaries and egging on progression, there were magical moments to be found in every venue, age group, and category. The images of four Ruggies going head-to-head through the twists of the ski cross course, or a grizzled Methuselah OG grabbing method over a tabletop, or a Breaker class rider stomping a halfpipe run that might have earned her a shot at the podium were she competing in the Open class, showed that the best of the sport was truly on display through the duration of these two weeks at Copper Mountain.

Making this season’s USASA National Championships extra special was that it marked the 30th anniversary of Chuck Allen founding what has now become the biggest snowsports event in the world.

It all began back on March 30th with the opening ceremonies for snowboard week, which kicked off five days of slalom, giant slalom, halfpipe, slopestyle, snowboard cross, and rail jam action that saw over 1300 riders testing their mettle on the prime Copper Mountain venues.

There are far too many notable snowboard performances to catalog here, but whether it was the likes of 7-year-old Ruggie Patty Zhou of China winning gold medals in halfpipe, slopestyle, and the rail jam, Breaker boys rider Connor Cavanagh (Bondville, Vt.) earning the overall title by putting down strong scores and times in all six Nationals competitions, or double Utah 2019 world champion snowboard cross racer Mick Dierdorff (Steamboat Springs, Colo.) finishing in 24th place in the Open category after riding switch from qualies through to his finals heat, there was something awesome happening wherever you turned your attention throughout those first five days of fun and competition.

Freeski events began on April 6th, and the moments kept coming there, whether from Axl Bonenberger (Breckenridge, Colo.) claiming the overall title in the highly-competitive Breaker boys category with a selection of top performances in halfpipe, slopestyle and ski cross, to Ruggie Isa Loge (S. Lake Tahoe, Calif.) winning halfpipe and ski cross gold while throwing in a slopestyle bronze for good measure, to top Open class girls like Riley Jacobs (Oak Creek, Colo.), Hanna Faulhaber (Carbondale, Colo.), and Connie Brogden of Great Britain trading positions on and around the podium through all of their events. For these an innumerable other USASA athletes the future is looking bright indeed.

And, of course, none of it would have been possible without the unyielding support of all the families behind the riders, the tutelage of the coaches and series directors, the dedication of every competition organizer, and the sense of community fostered by all 32 of the series’ that come together to make the USASA what it is.

Of course, all good things must come to an end, and as the snow fell and the last medals and awards were handed out at the closing ceremonies on Wednesday afternoon, another USASA National Champions was entered into the books. And us, we’re already looking forward to next year.