Steamboat riders, skiers shine at USASA Nationals | SteamboatToday.com

Steamboat riders, skiers shine at USASA Nationals

SSWSC athletes brought home 23 medals from event at Copper

Steamboat Sprngs snowboarder Chloe Banning, right, stands on the podium at the USASA Nationals with Faye Gulini, center, and Jackie Hernandez after placing second in the boardercross event at the USASA Nationals in Copper Mountain last week. Gulini won the event, and Hernandez was third.

Editor’s note: This story has been updated from its original version to correct the spelling of Jon Casson’s name and to list Penn Lukens as skiing in the ski cross event, not the halfpipe.

Members of the Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club returned from the USASA Nationals last week at Copper Mountain with more than their share of precious hardware.

Riders and freeskiers from the SSWSC collected 23 medals: six gold, 11 silver and six bronze. Athletes bringing home gold included Brooke Dunleavy, who won gold in the women's open division of ski cross, and freeskier Penn Lukens, who pocketed a gold in the men's ski cross event in the men's skier 13-15 division.

In men's snowboarding, Justin Reiter earned gold medals in the men's parallel slalom and men's parallel giant slalom events, and snowboarding phenomenon Nikolas Baden struck gold in the men's slopestyle and took the overall title for all five events in the Menehune boys division for riders ages 10 and 11. He was also second in the halfpipe and giant slalom events and third in snowboard cross during the week.

Coach Ashley Berger said the young rider also earned an invitation to ride in the Monster Mash Invitational, where he made a strong impression. The Monster Mash Invitational features the top riders in the country and was held April 7 as part of the USASA Nationals.

"He had a week of great results," Berger said. "But that event was high-profile, and he definitely stood out. All the top riders and most of the people who were putting it on wanted to talk to him."

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Berger said Baden was just one of several young snowboarders from Steamboat Springs who stood out at the annual end-of-season competition, which draws thousands of snowboarders from across the country to vie for national titles.

Berger said Arielle and Taylor Gold also shone at the event.

Arielle, who made a last-minute decision to step into the open class after a strong showing at the U.S. Open a few weeks ago, placed second overall with a third in the halfpipe, a seventh in the slalom and eighth-place finishes in the board cross and giant slalom events.

Her brother Taylor also collected a second-place finish in the open class of the men's halfpipe event, losing to rising snowboarding star Brett Esser.

"It really wasn't that close," Taylor said. "I knew after he landed his run that he was way out in front of everybody."

But the Steamboat rider, who also has a promising future, didn't let Esser's dominating performance deter him.

"I watched him to see what he was doing and what I can do to improve my riding to get to his level," Taylor said.

Taylor said it's been a good season, and he was glad to wrap it up with the second-place finish at USASA Nationals. He was named to the PacSun team and also got a chance to do a photo shoot in Keystone that was connected to Snowboarding Magazine.

Jon Casson, SSWSC snowboard program director, said the USASA Nationals event is one of the largest snowboarding competitions in the country and drew Steamboat riders ranging from Caleigh Greene, making her first appearance at nationals, to Baden, who has been to more than five of the competitions and is looking toward pro-level events next season.

"The USASA Nationals are just a huge celebration of the sport of snowboarding," Casson said. "Riders of every level and every age come to these championships. It's a great way to end the season."

Day 6 USASA highlights

Highlights from Day 6 of the USASA Nationals included open divisions for men and women in ski cross and snowboard cross. The Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club had top-ranked riders in all events.

Brooke Dunleavy dominated the open division of women’s ski cross. She won the time trial by 6 seconds and then won all three heats by a large margin.

Brant Crossan had a strong showing in open division for men’s ski cross. He won the time trial and was first out of the gate in the finals, but Trevor Ricioli, of Lake Tahoe, Calif., made a pass to push Brant into second in men’s ski cross. Matt Larson, of SSWSC, also skied well in the men’s open division, finishing fourth. Teammate Chris Barounas finished seventh in the event.

In the open division of women’s snowboard cross, Chloe Banning finished second behind 2010 Olympian Faye Gulini. Banning had an epic battle for second place with friend and rival Jackie Hernandez. Banning edged her out at the finish in a race that included several changes of position. Arielle Gold, 13, finished eighth.

The men’s open division for snowboard cross featured one of the strongest fields of the year, including a couple of national team members and most of the U.S. NorAm-level riders. At the end of the day, Steamboat Springs’ Roger Carver took third behind U.S. Ski Team member Bobby Minghini and JJ Tomlinson, who finished fifth at the 2010 X Games. Mick Dierdorff overcame a crash in the men’s snowboard cross semifinals and managed to place ninth. Winter Sports Club riders Mike Trapp and Will Peddie finished 12th and 13th.

USASA results

USASA National Championships (April 4 to 9)

Copper Mountain

Results for riders and skiers from Steamboat Springs

Snowboarding giant slalom

Open men

1. Justin Reiter

4. AJ Muss

5. Roger Carver

6. Mack Joyce

7. Mike Trapp

8. Galen Goldscheitter

Open women

2. Cassie Wagar

8. Arielle Gold

Grommet boys (8-9)

13. Cody Winters

19. Winston Vaughan

Breaker girls (12-13)

7. Maggie Carrigan

Jams women (18-22)

2. Angela Mercieri

Menehune girls (10-11)

18. Caleigh Greene

Youth men (14-15)

18. Jarryd Hughes

Breaker boys (12-13)

9. Garrett Denney

Menehune boys (10-11)

2. Nikolas Baden

11. Billy Winters

Snowboarding (slalom)

Open men

1. Justin Reiter

2. Mike Trapp

5. AJ Muss

6. Mack Joyce

8. Galen Goldscheitter

9. Roger Carver

Open women

2. Mimi Wiencke

6. Cassie Wagar

7. Arielle Gold

Grommet boys (8-9)

6. Cody Winters

Breaker girls (12-13)

2. Maggie Carrigan

Jams girls (18-22)

3. Angela Mercieri

Menehune girls (10-11)

17. Caleigh Greene

Youth men (14-15)

20. Jarryd Hughes

Breaker boys (12-13)

7. Billy Winters

18. Garrett Denney

Menehune boys (10-11)

32. Nikolas Baden

Ski cross

Open men

2. Brant Crossan

8. Chris Barounas

Open women

1. Brooke Dunleavy

Snowboard cross

Open men

3. Roger Carver

9. Mick Dierdorff

12. Mike Trapp

13. Will Peddie

29. Paul Brichta

Open women

2. Chloe Banning

8. Arielle Gold

18. Natalie Geer

Grommet boys (8-9)

7. Winston Vaughan

8. Cody Winters

Grommet girls (8-9)

6. Lexi Muss

Youth men (14-15)

4. Jarryd Hughes

Menehune boys (10-11)

3. Nikolas Baden

Halfpipe

Open men’s (snowboarding)

2. Taylor Gold

Open women’s (snowboarding)

3. Arielle Gold

Junior men (16-17)

7. Hunter Murphy

Youth men (14-15)

3. Alex Kondo

33. Jarryd Hughes

Skier girls (13-15)

3. Leslie Wilson

7. Maggie McElhiney

Skier boys (13-15)

16. Logan Banning

Open skier

4. Matt Larson

Skier boys (13-15)

13. Matt Sklar

Menehune boys (10-11)

2. Nikolas Baden

8. Spencer Vaughan

Slopestyle

Open women’s (snowboarding)

13. Arielle Gold

Menehune girls (10-11)

11. Caleigh Greene

Youth boys (14-15)

20. Alex Kondo

Menehune boys (10-11)

1. Nikolas Baden

28. Spencer Vaughan

Nikolas Baden won the overall title for the Menehune boys (10-11) division, and Arielle Gold was second in the open women’s division.

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