SVSEF Snowboard Team Makes a Statement at 2023 USASA Nationals

Two-time Olympian and SVSEF Alum Chase Josey supports as coach for the competition

Nine riders from the SVSEF Snowboard Team qualified for the 2023 USASA National Championships March 31-April 6 at Copper Mountain, CO, and five made the trip to compete. This was the first experience at Nationals for all the athletes except Naomi Gorringe, and the team had two-time Olympian and SVSEF Snowboard Team Alum Chase Josey along for the ride in a coaching capacity.

Naomi Gorringe (Breaker Girls 13-14), Vivian Smith (Menehune Girls 11-12), and Camille Armeen (Menehune Girls 11-12) competed in all three events—Slopestyle, Boardercross, and Halfpipe. Karsen Miller (Youth Men 15-16) competed in Slopestyle, and Callie Allen (Breaker Girls 13-14) competed in Slopestyle and Halfpipe.

“This was my second year at USASA Snowboard Nationals and it’s so fun to ride with my friends, coaches, and people that I don’t even know on a mountain that I am not familiar with,” said Naomi Gorringe. “This year, my coach Andy Gilbert and two-time Olympian Chase Josey came up with me to help coach in the start. The first day I had Half Pipe which is probably my favorite event, then I had Slopestyle on Tuesday, and finally on Wednesday I had Boardercross. To finish it up, on Thursday I got to watch the Menehunes do halfpipe, and I also got to ride with my friends, Callie Allen, Andy Gilbert, Chase Josey, Joey Okesson, and a few more people. I love the USASA Nationals, and I hope I can keep competing for a long time.”  

In Slopestyle, Karsen Miller was the lone rider having to compete on the big jump line that had by far the biggest jumps he had hit all season. Miller stepped up showing no sign of apprehension. His run included frontside 360 to two nice straight airs and a clean rail line, which landed him in 27th in the Youth Men 15-16 division. It was a top third of the field finish and a great result for Miller going forward.

The young women of SVSEF Snowboarding were next in the Breaker Girls 13-14. Callie Allen was smooth all day with a Half Cab back 360 combo and a smooth rail game. Her confidence on course grabbed her 14th overall, just missing the cut for finals. Naomi Gorringe (Breaker Girls 13-14), who was a contender in all the events she qualified for, was trying for a very technical run to pair with her always big amplitude. The run she wanted was half cab/front 360 stale/back 360 and then boardslides on the hardest rail features. It just wasn’t her day and she had trouble on the second feature and bobbled both runs. Naomi is a fierce competitor and this will serve as fuel going into next season and beyond. She is an amazing rider with a bright future, stay tuned.

In the Menehune Girls 11-12, Vivian Smith came to play! Smith stood out with her smooth grabs and airs and a confident style between features. In her very first Nationals, she nabbed a top ten finish—10th place and only two spots out of the final. Camille Armeen, who is kind of the opposite of Smith in her riding style, showed the power and amplitude she has been working on all season. Starting things off with half cab to smooth second jump air, Armeen landed in 15th and proved she deserved the spot at Nationals this season. Chase Josey was the “Hype Man” these young riders needed and he did a great job making tweaks to runs and getting the girls to believe they had the bag of tricks to perform on the day. 

Boardercross, the most unpredictable of the snowboard disciplines, gave us a great course in a new location at Copper Mountain this season. Sun Valley riders have always done well in this event coming from Baldy with its long runs, and coaches tried to channel that saying “it’s just like running Machine Road back home!” The time trial shook out as expected with all the Sun Valley riders landing solidly in the knockout heats and not having to claw through the last chance brackets. The strategy started moving into the heats, where the course featured a long straight away, with a rhythm section to a hard-left turn that favored the goofy-footed riders. 

Smith, one of the smallest riders in the field, used it as an advantage staying nimble and allowing riders to make mistakes before making a move. Gorringe, who was seeded to get second or third gate pick, would drop in from the left and push all the other riders high and to the right to set herself up to take the low left line to advance. Armeen used the same strategy and made the move of the day with a hard, low cut to slingshot past two girls in front of her. All three Sun Valley riders advanced two rounds to the quarter finals before getting knocked out, again showing that they are real ATV snowboarders! At the conclusion of the heats, it was Armeen 10th in Menehune Girls 11-12, Smith 11th in Menehune Girls 11-12, and Gorringe 14th in Breaker Girls 13-14.

The Halfpipe was up next and the riding on display all week was high level. Particularly in the women’s division it was smooth and creative and the ladies were going big. Smith and Armeen, who made one pipe trip this year to qualify for this event, were in a division (Menehune Girls 11-12) that featured 11-year-old Patti Yizhu Zhou, who finished on the podium at this year’s Dew Tour Halfpipe event. The girls dropped in back to back and were smooth and confident with straight airs at and just above the lip of the 22-foot pipe. Both girls grabbed their airs and after the first runs were sitting just on the bubble to make the 10-girl final. 

Chase discussed their second runs with them in the start gate and it was agreed they would add a frontside 360. Smith went first adding the 360 at the bottom of her run and improving her first run score. Armeen went bigger on her straight airs and looked smoother between the walls, so much so that she ran out of room to try the 360, but the intent was there. Smith and Armeen finished 17th and 19th respectively. This is an amazing result for first time National riders in a discipline we don’t get to ride that often. 

Gorringe and Allen in the Breaker Girls 13-14 division showed us what’s to come for them in the halfpipe, and they showcased their different styles and approach to snowboarding. Gorringe is the go big, take risks, and throw unique tricks and combos. Allen is the calculated, smooth, and subtle rider that just makes it look good. After a good practice, a look at the landscape, and realizing they did indeed belong among this field, the girls got to work. 

Allen was smooth between the walls, looking almost at ease as she got out of the pipe, grabbing everything, and adding an FS 360-Halfcab to her run. Gorringe went bigger than most of the field on all her straight airs, grabbing the attention of everyone there including the judges. The pipe was long and most girls were getting at least six to seven hits. Gorringe was getting five and had to just squeeze in her 360 at the bottom. 

This group was extremely competitive and the judging was tough to figure if big or tech was the rule of the day. The girls and coaches wanted to continue to play to the strengths that got them there, and just wanted to clean up what had already been shown in hopes of a little boost in score. When the smoke cleared, Gorringe finished just off the podium in fourth, with Allen right behind her in fifth! 

The Breaker Girls 13-14 was one of the groups that U.S. Team coaches attended to get a glimpse of what’s coming, and the two SVSEF riders made an impression to be sure. This was an amazing result for both girls and proof that Sun Valley is still producing great pipe riders with the fundamentals they learn riding Baldy every day.

This was an amazing “fact finding” trip for everyone who attended. The team often competes in a bit of a bubble and it’s invaluable for the riders to see where they stack up nationally, that they are competitive, and in many cases they are contenders.