Balsamo, FitzSimons Win USASA Nationals Rail Jam
Freeski week at the 2019 USASA National Championships opened on Saturday night with a truly electric Hard Rock Riviera Maya rail jam session where six of the best women and 10 of the best men duked it out. Marion Balsamo (Penasco, N.M.), and Tucker FitzSimons (Hood River, Ore.) took the wins with standout performances.
Representing the Southwest Freeride Series, Balsamo spends her time off the slopes riding rodeo. On Saturday, however, she was busy riding the rails, stomping tricks across a majority of the rail jam features, including an incredible double switch up front-to-front on the quad kink that also earned her “Best Trick of the Night” honors.
“I had a ton of fun tonight,” the 16-year-old Balsamo said with a smile smiled. “It was a blast. I’ve won Nationals before, but this is my first time winning open class and I’m just really excited.”
In second behind Balsamo was 14-year-old Hanna Faulhaber (Carbondale, Colo.) of the Aspen Snowmass Series, while the bronze medal went to 15-year-old Jenna Riccomini (Port Matilda, Penn.), representing the Rocky Mountain Series.
Over on the men’s side, the finals started with an absolute banger on Saturday night, with the first rider out of the gate dropping a massive gap 270 to down-flat-down on the quad kink.
That rider was FitzSimons of the Big Mountain West Series, and after setting the tone with that first trick he didn’t slow down for the rest of his gold-medal winning jam session, ranging left and right across all features and stomping top tricks that included a switch 270 gap to down-flat-down to backside 270 out on the quad kink, and a pole jam 50-50 to lipslide on the wall ride to backside 270 out on the down rail.
“It felt really good,” 21-year-old FitzSimons said, “I landed a lot of tricks that I really wanted to get, and I felt really good about my skiing. I was stoked. It was a super-fun event and I’m stoked have won and taken a little cash home at the end of the night. Everyone killed it tonight, I was super impressed with the level of riding.”
Eli Vossler (Bend, Ore.) of the Central Oregon Series claimed silver with a silky-smooth performance throughout the evening, while Will Griffith (Ketchum, Idaho) of the Big Mountain West series had one of the most consistently explosive performances of the night, launching into and out of features with abandon on his way to taking the bronze.