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Elder And Kleiman Bring Home USASA Gold

COPPER MOUNTAIN, Colo. – Adaptive Sports Foundation (ASF) snowboarders Zachary Elder and Charlie Kleiman each had a successful showing at the United States of America Snowboard and Freeski Association (USASA) National Championships this week, March 31-April 4, bringing home a total of six gold medals while competing in the Kekoa Class.

Andrew Stout, another snowboarder representing the ASF, made the trip to Colorado to compete at the USASA National Championships as well. Unfortunately, Stout got injured before participating in his first race on Sunday, causing him to drop out of the week’s competitions. The ASF wishes nothing but the best for Stout in his recovery and is looking forward to seeing him back on the slopes next season.

All three snowboarders are members of the ASF Race Team as well as the Catskill Mountain Series (CMS) team, which creates and maintains the avenue for Eastern Regional Athletes of all ages to have great venues to ride, achieve National points, qualify for the USASA National Championships and to receive recognition for their efforts in the sports of snowboarding and freestyle skiing.

Zach Elder getting air in Slopestyle

This was Elder’s 11th trip to USASA Nationals, but this was the first year that he focused solely on freestyle events, as he competed in the halfpipe, slopestyle, rail jam and boardercross competitions. “This year was a little different for me, since I’m used to all six disciplines,” Elder explained. “It took some time to adjust and it was really tough to just focus on freestyle, but I gave it everything I got.”

Elder began his competition week with Monday’s halfpipe competition. With a score of 69.0 on Copper Mountain’s 22-foot superpipe, Elder earned his first gold medal of the week. The following day, he competed in both the slopestyle and rail jam events. In the slopestyle competition, Elder made his way down the mountain with a score of 1,010, earning himself another first-place finish. In the rail jam, Elder garnered a score of 1,005, just one of seven competitors on the day to post a score of over 1,000, to take the gold in the Kekoa class.

Zach Elder in the Boardercross event

Elder’s final competition was Wednesday’s boardercross event, where he earned his fourth and final gold medal of the week. “This experience has been life-changing,” Elder said looking back on the week. “Catching up with some of my friends and participating in these competitions at the same time, it has been great.”

Kleiman participated in the slalom event on Sunday, March 31. After making a mistake on his first run, he corrected himself on the second, making it down the course in 61.74 seconds and earning first place, his first career gold medal at USASA Nationals.

Charlie Kleiman on the Slalom course

Kleiman had to wait four days before his next competition, the giant slalom, which was held on Thursday, April 4. The long layoff didn’t affect Kleiman, as he zoomed down the track in his second run, posting a time of 74.49 seconds. This run, along with his 92.26-second first run, gave him a combined time of 2:46.75, good enough for his second gold medal. “Snowboarding down the mountain, it feels great,” Kleiman explained. “It feels awesome and kind of scary, but it feels great once you reach the finish line.”

Like Elder, this was Kleiman’s 11th time competing at the USASA National Championships, and it was his most successful trip. “When I look down at my gold medals, I get the feeling of accomplishment,” Kleiman said. “I’m grateful to the Adaptive Sports Foundation for giving me this opportunity.”

Elder and Kleiman will be bringing home a combined six gold medals from the Centennial State while representing the ASF in the Kekoa Class.

Charlie Kleiman

The Kekoa (Hawaiian for “The Brave”) Class was recently created by USASA to recognize the many snowboarders with intellectual disabilities, allowing them to compete for the first time on the same day, time, and courses in all six disciplines as the rest of the snowboard community. The USASA snowboard community embraces inclusion, and it has been very welcoming and supportive of adaptive skiers and snowboarders chasing their dreams.

To view the results of all events from the USASA National Championships, click here. 

Photos courtesy of USASA