Riders hope to find keys to success

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Qualifying riders

Steamboat riders who qualified for USASA Nationals; events are listed in parentheses

Grommet Boys

Nik Baden (GS, SL, BX, HP, SS)

Joel Revo (GS,SL, BX, HP, SS)

Youth Women

Laura Bradfield (GS, SL)

Erika DeLine (GS, SS, BX)

Natalie Geer (BX,HP,SS)

Danielle Perry (BX)

Cassie Wagar (GS,SL, BX, HP,SS)

Skylar Weir (GS,SS,BX, HP,SS)

Junior men

Austin Catevenis (HP, SS)

Jann Eberharter (HP)

Conner Pyle (BX)

Brandon Whitehead (BX)

Luke Witcher (GS, SL)

Youth men

Drew Dummit (SS)

Taylor Gold (HP,SS)

Coleman Holloway (GS, SL, BX)

Grant Murray (HP, SS)

Will Peddie (GS, SL, BX)

Open men

Tyler Anderson (HP, SS)

Mick Dierdorff (BX)

Blake Eddington (HP, SS)

Cleve Johnson (BX)

Ben Fairchild (SL, GS)

Darren Ratcliffe (SL, GS)

Mike Trapp ( GS, SL, BX)

Open women

Chloe Banning (BX, HP)

Val Reynolds (injured)

Maddy Schaffrick (GS, HP, SS)

Ariel Tredway (injured)

Mimi Wienke (GS, SL)

Breaker boys

Keegan Weekslynn (SS)

Breaker girls

Summer Smalley (GS, SL, BX)

Menehune boys

Garrett Denney (GS, SL)

Carter Smalley (GS,SL, BX, HP, SS)

Menehune girls

Maggie Rose Carrigan (GS,SL, BX)

Arielle Gold (GS, SL, BX,HP, SS)

— The key to success at this year's United States of America Snowboard Association's National Championship is simple if you ask 11-year-old snowboarder Carter Smalley.

"Don't fall," Carter said late Tuesday afternoon while working on his jumps at the Howelsen Hill terrain park with his dad, Jon. "The championships are a lot of fun, but if you fall then you are not going to win."

Carter knows a thing or two about winning. He has won the Triple Overall Title, which is awarded to the rider with the highest combined point total in Alpine, freestyle and boardercross events in his age division, three of the past four years. Last time around, he finished second, but that was with his arm in a cast.

"I don't really have any expectations," Carter said. "I just want to have fun and keep from getting too uptight. In the past, I beat myself in a couple of events and I don't want that to happen this year."

With 1,600 snowboarders, the USASA Nationals claims to be the world's biggest snowboarding competition and has been the stepping stone for many of this country's top riders. Shawn White, Hannah Teeter, Gretchen Bleiler and Danny Kass all have competed in the event during their careers.

Jon Casson, Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club's snowboarding program director, said making it to the national championships is a huge goal for many of the young riders in his program.

The events open at Copper Mountain on Sunday, and 34 riders are expected to represent Steamboat in halfpipe, slopestyle, boardercross, slalom and giant slalom. The athletes will be divided into age divisions.

"With that many riders it really becomes a celebration of snowboarding," Casson said. "It's a great atmosphere."

Opening ceremonies are scheduled to take place Saturday, and the first official day of competition is set for Sunday. The different divisions will then be rotated through the competition venues during six days of events. The championships will come to an end April 6.

Steamboat snowboarder Keegan Weekslynn is making his first trip to the nationals this week.

"I'm hoping for a podium, but I don't think it's very likely," Weekslynn said. "This is my first time, so I'm hoping to go there and figure out what it's all about. Hopefully I can learn and then go back next year."

Summer Smalley, Carter's 14-year-old sister, also will make the trip to Copper Mountain this week - her fourth USASA national championships appearance. She hopes for a strong showing in the boardercross, slalom and giant slalom events. Summer qualified for boardercross by winning the regional series, and her national rankings in slalom and giant slalom earned her spots in those events.

"I'm not too worried about the results," Summer said. "I just want to go there and do my best and have some fun. That's what it's all about."

-To reach John F. Russell call 871-4209

or e-mail jrussell@steamboatpilot.com

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