Not all snowboarders have the opportunity to compete on a professional level, but the United States of America Snowboard and Freeski Association (USASA) gives a lot of amateur riders the chance to compete on a local level and work their way up the ranks.
The USASA was created before snowboarding was a mainstream sport, and the foundation has supported amateur riders in countless ways since its inception.
The USASA was created in 1988 by Chuck Allen, a former surf coach who had become a snowboard enthusiast in the sport’s early days. He started the organization with a meager $500 donation from Transworld Snowboarding Magazine.
Chuck Allen and his fellow organizers believed the sport needed an organization to set standards for competitive snowboarding in the United States. The USASA was designed to be the governing body that would regulate competitors and snowboard competitions by setting rules and standards for each event. They also created an annual championship to determine the best riders in the nation.
The USASA held their first national championships in 1999 at Snow Valley in California. A snowstorm closed roads and nearly forced the competition to shut down, but Chuck Allen helped the stranded competitors sneak past police barricades to the competition site. His dedication to the sport, the organization, and the competitors made for a successful event despite the weather conditions.
Snowboarding grew dramatically in popularity as years passed, and the USASA competitions grew with it. The organization started by hosting halfpipe, giant slalom, and slalom competitions, but slopestyle was added to the list in the 1993/1994 season. Riders competed in small regional events in an attempt to qualify for each winter’s national championships.
The USASA wasn’t just setting rules and hosting competitions. The organization gave countless children and adults, who may not have been interested in conventional sports, an opportunity to show off their talents.
As the USASA evolved, some regions hosted unique events like obstacle courses and super-g races, but the core disciplines of halfpipe, slopestyle, giant slalom, slalom, and snowboard cross were the ones performed in the national competition. In 2011, the USASA Nationals drew 1,641 competitors from 49 states. The incredible turnout to each year’s Nationals competition showed the continued success of the USASA foundation.
The USASA foundation made competitive snowboarding accessible to all riders, whether they wanted to become olympians, win nationals, or just enjoy a day on the mountain with friends. While many competitions were focusing on the professionals, the USASA reached out to the everyday snowboarders on local hills and mountains throughout the country.
USASA Grants and Scholarships:
The USASA shows its commitment to helping young riders each year by offering scholarship opportunities. The Chuck Allen Scholarship Award was renamed after the organization’s founder when he passed away in 2011. Any rider who qualifies for the National Championships can apply for the Chuck Allen Scholarship Award, and the recipient is awarded based on letters of recommendation, transcripts, and competition results.
The scholarships, which range from $100 to $1000, can be used toward any snowboard camp, coaching program, or institute of learning. The USASA awarded $15,000 in scholarships to over 1000 riders in 2012.
The Nationals Assistance Awards are also distributed every year to help riders pay for their trip to the nationals competition. The USASA understands that traveling to snowboard resorts, staying in hotels, and buying lift tickets can be outrageously expensive, so they help riders who probably wouldn’t have made it to the competition get there without the worry of cost.
The USASA foundation distributed $6,000 in Nationals Assistance Awards to 25 athletes in 2012.