Eight skiers, seven snowboarders headed to the big show
All the hard work, expert coaching and effort comes to a head next week as 15 athletes from the Crested Butte Mountain Sports Team (CBMST) head to the United States of American Snowboard Association (USASA) National Championships at Copper Mountain April 3-9.
Athletes from around the nation will be at the national championships for a shot at the title in a variety of snowboard and ski disciplines.
Head CBMST freeride ski coach Woody Lindenmeyr has eight of his athletes bound for Copper. Top of the list is 13-year-old rising star Aaron Blunck.
Blunck got his first taste of nationals last year, finishing with a second place in the slopestyle and a fifth-place finish in the halfpipe in the 11-15-year-old age group.
This season he’s ramped up his bag of tricks for the slopestyle and halfpipe events and is throwing himself into the skiercross as well.
“He’s going for the overall title,” says Lindenmeyr.
Hillari Spencer and Hailey Loeffler return to the skiercross competition this year.
The two battled last year for the national title in the 16-19-year-old age class with Spencer taking the national title and Loeffler finishing in fourth.
The two combined for 23 laps in the 7 Hours of the Banana earlier this year, so there’s no question they’re in shape and Loeffler is fresh off a freeskiing win in Snowbird so she’s got her sights set on a return to the top of the podium.
Lindenmeyr expects the two could run into some stiff competition in their age group this year but the team has been working out on the top of the cross track set on Gold Link to prepare.
“We’ve been training hard on our starts,” says Lindenmeyr. “Three-fourths of the race is the start, getting into the first turn in first place.”
Josie Byron returns to the nationals as well, with a fourth-place finish under her belt from her first trip there last season.
Tiffany Taaca, Aiden Treuttner and Skylar Kraatz all qualified for nationals as well in skiercross and Sean Johnson will compete in both the skiercross and slopestyle events.
“They are really fired up and stoked,” says Lindenmeyr, “as long as they’re putting their full effort on the line.”
Assistant director for the CBMST Christian Robertson heads up the snowboard crew. There are five events for snowboarders: slalom, giant slalom, halfpipe, slopestyle and boardercross. Nine CBMST snowboarders qualified for nationals this year, with seven making the trip.
“We have had a great season with all the shredders on the CBMST snowboard team,” says Robertson. “I am incredibly proud of every member of the team and am very impressed with the level of progression from each rider.”
Kevin Healey qualified in all five events and will be gunning for the overall National title in his Grommet age group with Zach Siegel joining him in the boardercross.
Both Nora Healey and Thomas Taaca took third place overall last year at nationals and could step up to the top spot this year in the Menehune age group.
Colleen Healey owned the competition last year and is coming into the nationals this year on fire, looking to repeat as the overall national champion in Breaker girls class.
Josh Gallen qualified in both the giant slalom and halfpipe and Robertson thinks he could turn some heads at nationals.
Alexis Roemer is in the women’s open class and has battled injuries all season but should put the hurt on the competition in the halfpipe and boardercross.
“She could spoil the day for some of the favorites if she has a good day in either venue,” says Robertson.
As a whole, the team is charging their way into nationals and should match up against riders from around the country.
“The best in the country will be in Copper for the USASA nationals,” says Robertson. ”They better bring their A Game because they will have to earn every point to finish above any of the riders we are taking to this championship event.”