U.S. Snowboard, Freeski teams named

Scotty Lago is the only snowboarder on both the U.S. Snowboard Halfpipe and Slopetyle teams. Tom Zikas/USSA

The U.S. Ski and Snowboard Association introduced all four of its freeskiing and snowboarding national teams in a ceremony at Copper Mountain, Colo., Friday, including five athletes named to the first-ever national slopestyle snowboarding pro team, which was revealed to the public for the first time.

Bill Enos, a longtime coach at Waterville Valley, N.H., and former World Cup snowboarding racer in the 1990s, was named coach of the U.S. slopestyle team. He will lead a group of young, proven stars that includes Chas Guldemond (who grew up snowboarding under Enos in New Hampshire), Eric Willett, Sage Kotsenburg, Scotty Lago and the lone female team member, Ty Walker, a 14-year-old prodigy from Stowe, Vt.

U.S. Freeskiing and Snowboarding director Jeremy Forster hailed the national team as a group capable of winning Olympic medals when the slopestyle discipline makes its debut at the 2014 Winter Games in Sochi, Russia. Among their accomplishments, Guldemond is a past Grand Prix and Winter X Games Europe champion, Willett took silver at last year's Winter X Games, Kotsenburg has won the overall Dew Tour title and Walker won the amateur national championship last spring.

"It's one of the biggest honors ever to be named coach of this team," said Enos, 47, a pioneer who fashioned his first snowboard out of scraps at a construction site when the sport was still ridiculed in the 1980s.

One name missing from the inaugural U.S. roster was South Lake Tahoe's Jamie Anderson, widely considered the best female slopestyle rider in the world. "I decided that this season, I want to do less events, and focus on riding more natural terrain and lots of powder!" Anderson wrote in an e-mail Friday.

The naming of the U.S. slopestyle team comes at a topsy-turvy time for snowboarding, largely due to a divide between its world governing body, the International Ski Federation (FIS), and many of the top pros over the 2014 Olympic qualification process. Most athletes feel there are too many events on the calendar and worry they will have to skip major competitions in order to chase qualification points at lesser-known FIS events, a contention for which the FIS has shown little sympathy. In light of that, many U.S. Team riders felt their position has been strengthened for future FIS discussions through the naming of this national team.

"I think it's only going to help," said Guldemond, one of snowboarding's leading athlete voices. "We're still fighting for the best conditions for the athletes. Whether I'm on the U.S. Team or not, I'm still going to be fighting for that."

Enos, who said he will maintain his home in New Hampshire and not move to U.S. team headquarters in Utah, mostly deferred comment on the FIS controversy, saying: "I don't like to be political. That's probably one of the reasons I was hired. I haven't even voted for a president since Jimmy Carter. I don't really have a stance [on the FIS situation]. I just love to snowboard."

Lago, the only U.S. rider named to both the halfpipe and slopestyle pro teams, said of the slopestyle team's formation: "It definitely strengthens our position, but I don't think the FIS is ever going to change unless they have to change."

When asked if he'd heard any talk of a possible rider boycott of FIS events, he said: "No, but there should be. And if it does happen, it's got to be all or none, and I think it has to be before the Olympics, like maybe next year. Not like I'm planning anything, but I think that would be the way to go about it."

Lago, who won a Bronze Medal at the 2010 Olympics, is joined on the U.S. halfpipe team by three other Olympic medalists on the women's side. The group is headlined by gold medalists Kelly Clark, the most dominant women's rider in the sport, and Hannah Teter along with silver medalist and four-time Winter X Games champion Gretchen Bleiler.

Teter returns to the U.S. Team this year after declining her nomination last year to focus on personal projects. She acknowledged that decision hurt her performance and returns for her ninth year on the team with a renewed focus. "Last year was really a wakeup call that the benefits on the team are huge," she said. "And it really helps with winning."

Louie Vito, a longtime member of the U.S. halfpipe team, declined his nomination this year to work with former U.S. Olympic coach Bud Keene one-on-one. Vito said he still intends to compete at all the major events and appreciates all the advantages the U.S. Team has provided him over the years. "It's just that where I am right now, this was the best thing for me," he said.

In related news, former Olympian Tommy Czeschin joins U.S. halfpipe coach Ricky Bower, a former world champion, as a coach on the national team.

The first halfpipe titles of the snowboarding season will be handed out Saturday at the Grand Prix finals at Copper's Main Vein pipe. The U.S. slopestyle team will make its season debut next weekend in Breckenridge at the first stop on this winter's Dew Tour.

Mike Jankowski, Head U.S. Snowboarding and U.S. Freeskiing Coach
*Denotes Olympian

2012 U.S. Snowboarding Slopestyle Pro Team -- Bill Enos Coach
(birthdate; hometown)
Chas Guldemond (4/22/1987; Reno, NV)
Sage Kotsenburg (7/27/1993; Park City, UT)
Scotty Lago (11/12/1987; Seabrook, NH)
Eric Willett (1/2/1988; Breckenridge, CO)

Ty Walker (3/3/1997; Stowe, VT)

U.S. Snowboarding Halfpipe Pro Team -- Rick Bower and Tommy Czeschin, Coaches
Greg Bretz (12/19/1990; Mammoth Mountain, CA)*
Matt Ladley (05/17/1991; Steamboat Springs, CO)
Scotty Lago (11/12/1987; Seabrook, NH)*

Gretchen Bleiler (04/10/1981; Aspen, CO)*
Kelly Clark (07/26/1983; West Dover, VT)*
Kaitlyn Farrington (12/18/1989; Sun Valley, ID)
Elena Hight (08/17/1989; South Lake Tahoe, CA)*
Ellery Hollingsworth (09/02/1991; Darien, CT)
Hannah Teter (01/27/1987; Belmont, VT)*

U.S. Snowboarding Halfpipe Rookie Team -- Spencer Tamblyn, Coach
Paul Brichta (08/24/1991; Burnsville, MN)
Brett Esser (10/12/1992; Silverthorne, CO)
Benji Farrow (03/08/1992; Mt. Holly, VT)
Ben Ferguson (01/21/1995; Bend, OR)
Taylor Gold (11/17/1993; Steamboat Springs, CO)
Spencer Shaw (01/29/1993; Stratton Mountain, VT)

Maddy Schaffrick (04/29/1994; Steamboat Springs, CO)
Serena Shaw (01/22/1995; Stratton Mountain, VT)

Mike Jankowski, Head U.S. Snowboarding and U.S. Freeskiing Coach

2012 U.S. Freeskiing Halfpipe Pro Team - Andy Woods, Coach
Simon Dumont (07/09/1986; Bethel, ME)
David Wise (06/30/1990; Reno, NV)
Torin Yater-Wallace (12/02/1995; Snowmass, CO)
Tucker Perkins (01/05/1991; North Hampton, NH)
Gus Kenworthy (10/01/1991; Telluride, CO)

Devin Logan (02/17/1993; West Dover, VT)
Jen Hudak (09/07/1986; Park City, UT)
Jess Reedy (06/04/1983; Avon, CO)
Brita Sigourney (01/17/1990; Carmel, CA)

2012 U.S. Freeskiing Slopestyle Pro Team -- Evan Raps, Coach

Bobby Brown (06/05/1991; Denver, CO)
Sammy Carlson (01/11/1989; Hood River, OR)
Gus Kenworthy (10/01/1991; Telluride, CO)
Alex Schlopy (07/25/1992; Park City, UT)
Tom Wallisch (07/22/1987; Salt Lake City, UT)

Ashley Battersby (01/27/1988; Park City, UT)
Grete Eliassen (09/19/1986; Salt Lake City, UT)
Keri Herman (08/16/1982; Breckenridge, CO)
Devin Logan (02/17/1993; West Dover, VT)
Meg Olenick (12/30/1987 Aspen, CO)