Pajarito to host USASA competition

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By Kirsten Laskey

Coming up, Pajarito Mountain Ski Area will greet skiers and snowboarders with more than just snow-packed slopes and scenic views; they will be given an opportunity to receive national recognition for their skills.

For the first time, the ski area will host the Terrian Park Slope Style/Snowboard competition, which being presented by the U.S. Amateur Snowboard Association (USASA).

The slope style competition will be held Saturday in the new terrain park.

Registration begins at 8 a.m. Saturday at the Pajarito Ski Lodge. Participants need to be a member of the USASA to participate.

For those who are not yet USASA members, memberships are available for purchase. They range from a $10 one-day membership to a $35 temporary membership and a  $75 season membership.

Memberships can be bought Saturday or they can be purchased online at www.USASA.org.

There is also a registration fee of $25 and for those who do not have a season pass, there is an additional $25 lift ticket.

An inspection and a practice session will follow the registration from 9-10 a.m. before a mandatory riders’ meeting is held at 10:45 a.m.

The race begins after the meeting and awards will be given at 4 p.m.

Sunday, the slalom and giant slalom races will be held in the lumberyard section of the ski area.

Registration for that event will again be held at 8 a.m. in the lodge, after which an inspection will be held.

A mandatory riders' meeting will be held at 10:15 a.m. before the race begins.

The giant slalom race will kick off with an inspection from 12:30-1:30 p.m., a riders’ meeting will be held at 1:45 p.m. and the race will begin following the meeting.

Awards for that race will also be given at 4 p.m.

All participants are required to wear helmets and any skiers and snowboarders younger than age 18 must have an adult or a coach sign a waiver.

The competition, said Jason Hutchinson, supervisor of the snowboard portion of Snow Sport School, is part of the USASA’s efforts to revamp itself and get more competitions in the state.

Also, competitors who hold a season membership will have the opportunity to have their scores recorded for a national ranking.

“Plus, it’s just fun," Hutchinson said.

Competitors are not the only ones who are welcome in the event, spectators are encouraged to take part, too.

Volunteers are also being sought. Volunteers will receive a free lift ticket for the day of the race as well as a lift ticket voucher, which will be good any time during the 2009 season.

Hutchinson noted the competition benefits everyone. “Particularly for locals of Los Alamos … this is in their backyard,” he said. “It certainly brings in revenue for the mountain. To me, it’s all about the mountain. This is Los Alamos’ playground, the money goes back into the mountain. It just gets better and better for the mountain.”

Hutchinson said Pajarito Mountain was chosen as the location for the competition because “we have multiple slalom courses and we have a state-of-the-art terrain park … and we’re just cool.”

According to USASA website, the grassroots organization started in 1988 by former amateur surf coach Chuck Allen. Its efforts enable skiers and snowboarders of all ages to participate in organized events.

Since its start, 36 regional series of the organization has been established.

The mission of the USASA New Mexico series, said Damion Terrell, is to promote interest and improvement of riders of all abilities in snowboarding and skiing through friendly and fun competition.

The New Mexico series, he said, has been in operation for more than 10 years. It began in Angel Fire Resort.