The announcement includes first year teams in slopestyle snowboarding and skiing, as well as halfpipe skiing – all the result of decisions by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) earlier this year to bring the events into the 2014 Sochi Olympics. The USSA named 21 athletes to U.S. Snowboarding halfpipe and slopestyle teams, and 17 to U.S. Freeskiing.
Halfpipe athletes had outstanding training in Copper's early-opening 22-foot pipe preparing for the Sprint U.S. Grand Prix opener at the Colorado resort.
First Slopestyle Pro Team Named
As a part of the Copper announcement, the inaugural U.S. Snowboarding Slopestyle Snowboarding Pro Team was named. Olympic halfpipe bronze medalist and multi-event threat Scotty Lago (Seabrook, NH), along with Sprint U.S. Grand Prix and Euro X Games winner Chas Guldemond (Reno, NV), were among those selected. Holding the coaching reins for the 2012 slopestyle crew is former U.S. Snowboarding athlete Bill Enos, who comes to the team from Waterville Valley.
"With the inclusion of slopestyle snowboarding in the 2014 Olympics in Sochi, naming this team is a natural step for us," said U.S. Snowboarding and U.S. Freeskiing Director Jeremy Forster. "We're supporting a great group of Olympic medal potential athletes and we look forward to working with this amazing group of riders as we head toward Sochi."
One of the most recent sports to be added to the winter Olympic lineup, slopestyle snowboarding features a stylized course featuring kickers, rails, boxes and other freestyle features that riders will incorporate into their runs.
"There have been so many huge developments in slopestyle snowboarding in the past year. The riders have been taking the sport to new levels, the IOC gave the nod to the Sochi 2014 Olympic Games, and now we are naming this group of super-talented riders to the first ever U.S. Snowboarding Slopestyle Pro Team," said U.S. Snowboarding and U.S. Freeskiing Halfpipe and Slopestyle Head Coach Mike Jankowski. "These athletes are paving the golden road for U.S. Snowboarding into the future."
According to Guldemond, being named to the team means more opportunities for him to take his riding to that next level. "It's something new for the organization. It's a really exciting change and shows the growth in snowboarding," said Guldemond. "The benefits U.S. Snowboarding can provide for me will help take my snowboarding to the next level, as well as the other riders. Having a national team will allow riders to progress that much more."
The team roster includes a group of athletes known for their slope abilities including Dew Tour slopestyle champion Sage Kotsenburg (Park City, UT), X Games silver medalist Eric Willett (Breckenridge, CO) and 14-year-old slopestyle phenom Ty Walker (Stowe, VT) on the women's side.
Longtime U.S. Snowboarding partner, Burton, has signed on to support the U.S. Snowboarding Slopestyle Pro Team by providing official uniforming for the Team's inaugural inclusion in the 2014 Olympic Winter Games in Sochi.
The season kicks off for slopestyle snowboarding Dec. 15 when the Winter Dew Tour touches down in Breckenridge, CO. Key events in the season including the Sprint U.S. Grand Prix in Mammoth Mountain, CA, X Games, Dew Tour and the Feb. 10-19 TTR World Championships in Oslo, Norway.