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Head West, Young Rider

USASA Gives Wester New York Snowboarders a Chance to Compete at the National Level
USASA Competitors
Bob Knab

At resorts in Colorado and Utah, there is jaw-dropping talent in every terrain park. At resorts like Holiday Valley, there are diamonds in the rough.  Somehow, the success stories of the latter are always so much more awesome. 

Thanks to USASA (United States of America Snowboarding Association), the afore mentioned diamonds have the opportunity to showcase their skill and gain national recognition. 

When you think of professional snowboarders and their roots, Western New York does not typically come to mind. In a region where the hills are dwarves compared to the giants in the west, riders here do not have the same tools necessary to progress as quickly. But thanks to the hard work of a dedicated group of people, snowboarders from this region can now legitimately compete with the talent of bigger mountains. 

Founded in 1988, USASA brings a competitive spirit to snowboarding. By standardizing the rules and creating one big circuit, it has effectively helped the sport grow by giving riders a chance to square off against one another in an event setting. 

Starting in January, USASA will hold competitions at Holiday Valley, HoliMont and Peek’n Peak (view the full schedule at www.wnyss.com). In doing so, it gives riders from Western New York a chance to not only prove themselves amongst their peers, but make it to the national finals - where they can throw down against heavy-hitters from all over the country.  Without these competitions, Western New York’s up-and-comers would have a much more difficult time in proving themselves amongst the elite of the snowboarding world. 

Pat Morgan, director of youth marketing and terrain parks at Holiday Valley, said he’s proud to be from a region that harvests under-the-radar talent. 

“The past few years, the events have been really competitive,” he said. “You wouldn’t know it, but there are a lot of really good riders here. It’s cool to be able to say ‘Hey, that kid who just won nationals grew up riding at Holiday Valley.’ People don’t realize that the talent here is top-notch.”

Many of the competitors from this region are on Holiday Valley’s snowboard team, which has done an epic job of grooming young riders. Last year, 8-year-old Dilli Oliver placed first in giant slalom, slalom and boardercross on the national level.  Other riders, like Nicholas Fiorini, love that they have a chance to prove the naysayers wrong. 

“As a small-mountain resort, we don’t have a ton of opportunities to compete in major events,” he said. “Without USASA coming to Ellicottville, I never could have made it to nationals last year.”   

In early April, the national finals will be held at Copper Mountain, Colorado. With so much hidden talent lying around this region, Western New York could be heavily represented. 

Everyone loves the underdog. But if this area keeps sending so many riders to nationals each year, those who shred on bigger mountains will start to fear the words “Western New York.”