For the next two years, with the first year starting this weekend March 29 – 31, Heavenly Mountain Resort in South Lake Tahoe will host the U.S. Freestyle Championships. This is especially important for the locals as Lake Tahoe has so many homegrown kids who end up on the U.S. Freestyle Team, which is a part of the larger United States Ski Team. Of course, the locals from the Tahoe Basin who are participating, have several advantages; 1, they know the mountain, 2, family and friends don’t have far to drive, so the support group is bigger.
These participants have gone through a lot of years getting to this point. Starting young, interested kids find one of the 425 local, or not so local if you’re quite a distance from a mountain, ski club and join. Kids can obtain introductory education and training, in addition to competition. And they grow up through the system from there, going through the regional, then divisional levels. These levels lead up to the national and international events. The points they earn through this process determines the makeup of the US national teams, which compete at the World Cup and Olympic level.
Although this weekend’s event is about freestyle, aerials, moguls, and dual moguls (you know, the cool and exciting stuff), the US Ski Team includes several types of skiing; alpine, adaptive alpine, cross country, adaptive cross country, ski jumping, and Nordic combined. The Team operates under the United States Ski and Snowboard Association (USSA).
So, for us in the Lake Tahoe area, it’s really fun to know that the kid next store, who is currently skiing on the Junior Olympic circuit, has a great chance to grow up through the various levels of competition and ultimately, end up on the championship podium and world stage.