Vermont riders sweep contest at national level

Over the past two weeks the UVM Snowboard Team sent 14 of their riders along with coach Charles Souchuns to compete at the 23rd annual USA Snowboard and Freeski Association national competition held at Copper Mountain in Colorado. Along with the Snowboard Team, Vermonts Freeski team also sent nine of their own to compete, an increase from the seven it sent in 2012.

Athletes from all over the United States converged at Copper Mountain to compete against each other for the chance to step up on that podium. Events that riders can compete in include the rail jam and slope style format events. Rail jams are events in which snowboarders perform multiple tricks off of objects such as rails, boxes, pipes, will rides and several other creative places. Scoring is done in the jam style, where every rider can take as many runs as the clock permits.

Marketing Manager and junior Brandon Sauer said participation at USASA gives UVM good exposure.

“It was good to see east coast riders competing at the national level and putting Vermont on the map in both men and women’s pipe, Sauer said.

Members of the team got the chance to leave Burlington for a week and experience Vermonts sister state, Colorado. During their days off from competition, team members were able to shred the local Colorado mountains.

The USASA National Championship is the largest snowboard and free skiing event in the nation. The top regional amateur athletes are all invited to compete for the chance to be ranked as national champions.

It has previously been the norm that riders who won Nationals would get to compete at the next level, X Games. However, this is no longer the case according to USASAs official website.

The X Games is an annual sports event, arranged by ESPN, which focuses on action sports such as skiing and snowboarding, according to the events official website.

This year, senior Connor Winton took home second place in the mens pipe jam division, an event similar to the rail jam. Vermont senior KC Copper also secured a second place spot in the womens pipe jam division.

Winton and Coppers teammates who also made the trip to Colorado include seniors Sandy Roundy-Lane, Andrew McIsaac, John Hancheck, Kate Kostrya, Dave King, Mike Kent, Brianna Vay, Kendall Williams, Kia Ellis, Rafel Rodriguez and juniors John Welch and Stephanie Nelb.

When it came time for the Freeski team to ride, the athletes proved that they could compete, sweeping the competition in their division.

I am very proud of the team and how they have been learning and progressing, Freeski president Noah Labow said. Each year we raise the level of the team and continue to recruit new talented student athletes.

Senior Ian Adams competed in the open class rail jam, following in the footsteps of 2012s open class rail jam winner and free ski team legend, Sam The Operator Putnam.

Teammate and senior Christian Alexis placed first in 19+ half pipe. He accomplished this after training on the half pipe only a few times this year.

Senior officers Max Ebenstein and Jared Necamp both spent practice time preparing for the open class Slopestyle. During each run of the competition, Ebenstein unfortunately fell on the rails.

A coached instructional competition team is new at UVM, Labow said. There is a system to learning how to safely execute tricks in the park and pipe, and FST is quickly catching on.

Necamp successfully skied the rails for the open class slopestyle but finished 23rd overall after competing against some tough competition.

Vermont swept the podium for the 19+ Slopestyle after all five athletes who competed from Vermont placed in the top 5. Sophomore Dave DiMarco took first place as senior Justin Goldberg secured second. Alexis trailed coming in third, while junior Logan McKee, who sustained a broken hand on the trip, and sophomore Matt Gardner placed fourth and fifth respectfully.

Nationals was a great success this year and was a proper culmination of a winter training and progressing our skills, Ebestein said. Everyone skied well throughout the week and had a great time representing our team and the school.