Miller, Johnson Win USASA Nationals SBX Open Class Gold
The first day of competition at the 30th anniversary of the USASA National Snowboard Championships went down on Sunday at Copper Mountain Resort, where a typically jam-packed day of riding saw action across all six Nationals venues.
The top-tier Open riders highlighted the day over on the boardercross course, where a strong field duked it out on the tricky Copper track and Anna Miller (Orem, Utah) and U.S. Snowboardcross Development Team member Cole Johnson (Reno, Nev.) took top honors in the respective women’s and men’s fields.
Last season’s third-overall rider on the Nor-Am circuit, 22-year-old Miller came into competition in Copper fresh off her first full season on the World Cup tour, and on Sunday her rise to the upper echelon of the SBX world was on full display as she put on a dominant performance.
By the middle of the course in Sunday’s big finals, Miller had opened up a lead of nearly a second over her competitors, and was able to cruise home through the course’s bottom section to claim victory in her first time competing at the Open level in her National Championships career.
“It was awesome out there today,” said Rocky Mountain Series rider Miller at the awards ceremony, “I thought the conditions were really nice and the course was running a little bit smoother than it has been. Getting a good start was important, but if not there was a little room to make some passes down at the bottom.
“I’ve been doing USASA Nationals since I was 12 years old. I think this is probably my eighth time coming here. Being here and being in this environment I get all this nostalgia, seeing all the young kids like I once was, coming up. It’s really awesome to win here today.”
Second place for the women went to Yoshi Kohlwes (Mill Valley, Calif.), while Katie Wilson (Mchenry, Ill.) rounded out the podium in third, with Felicia Turcotte (Park City, Utah) was the odd-rider-out in fourth place. Meanwhile, seventh place on the day went to a well-known but unexpected name, as halfpipe rider par excellence Arielle Gold (Steamboat Springs, Colo.) dropped in on her first ever SBX event and showed that she just might have a future in head-to-head racing if she ever gets tired of the pipe life.
Over on the men’s side it was South Tahoe Series representative Johnson taking the win in what was hotly-contested race that featured a handful of World Cup regulars and a long list of top Nor-Am riders.
The Nor-Am overall SBX winner back in the 2015/16 season and a nine-time Nor-Am race winner, Johnson was able to put down the top time in the seeding run before hitting the finals, where he used strong starts and aggressive lines on the snaking Copper track to lead every heat on his way to the big final.
In the big final he faced his toughest challenge of the day from Paul Kamisky (Davis, Calif.), as the two were neck-and-neck though much of the final run, but eventually Johnson was able to pull away and take the win.
“Awesome riders out here today and I think we had a great day,” smiled Johnson, “I was able to put down a fast time in seeding and then fortunately I was able to get out front in all my heats. Things definitely got a little tighter in the semifinal and finals, but fortunately I was able to keep it on my feet and get across the line out front in the finals.
“I’ve been competing at USASA Nationals since I was 12, so it’s always special to come back here and see all the kids out here having fun. Hopefully I can help keep them stoked.”
Kaminsky held on for second place on the day, while Matthew Mostoller (Johnstown, Penn.) claimed third, and U.S. Snowboardcross Pro Team memberJonathan Cheever (Saugus, Mass.), a regular on the World Cup team, would have to settle for fourth place after crashing in his big final run.