USASA returning to Northstar |

USASA returning to Northstar

File photoKelly Marren airs over a jump at Northstar during last year's USASA Nationals.

The nation’s top amateur snowboarders and skiers will begin trickling in to the North Shore this weekend for the 18th Annual United States of America Snowboard Association (USASA) National Championships.

For the second consecutive year, Northstar-at-Tahoe is hosting what organizers tout as the world’s largest snowboard event, which kicks off Sunday with an opening ceremonies parade at Ice Rink Plaza. Much like in the Olympic Games, the opening ceremony will consist of a parade featuring all of the athletes from the country’s 35 participating regions displaying their local pride.

Competition begins on Monday and continues through Friday. As of Tuesday, 1,421 athletes were set to compete, said Karen Mertl, administrative executive for USASA. Mertl said there may be as many as 1,600 skiers and snowboarders by the time competition gets under way.

Of those 1,421 athletes, 114 will be representing the North Tahoe Snowboard Series, with roughly the same number representing the South Tahoe Snowboard Series, Mertl said.

Snowboarders will compete in one or more of the following five events: Superpipe, Slopestyle, Boardercross, Giant Slalom and Slalom. Events for skiers include Slopestyle, Superpipe and Skiercross.

Since the beginning of the 2006-2007 season, the competitors have been qualifying at their local USASA Regional Series for an invitation to the grand finale.

USASA hosts more than 500 events annually at approximately 200 resorts throughout the U.S., with each of the USASA series holding eight to 20 events each year. The North Tahoe Snowboard Series held 15 events this past winter at Boreal, Northstar and Donner Ski Ranch, according to the USASA Web site,

Beginner, intermediate and expert riders ages 4 to 74 compete in 32 separate divisions in their regional series to earn a chance to participate in the National Championship, where they will vie for 840 medals. In addition, more than $15,000 in scholarships funds are awarded by the USASA to National Championship participants each year at Nationals.

The USASA National Championship news coverage and daily results will be featured on the USASA Web site at Visit the USASA Web site for the latest information.

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