The top U16 alpine racers in the U.S. Ski and Snowboard Association’s (USSA) Eastern region will compete for regional titles this season at the Ronnie Berlack U16 Eastern Region Championships Grand Prix, named in honor of the late U.S. Ski Team athlete. The event, sponsored by Nordica, will take place March 9-14, 2017 at Stowe Mountain Resort, Vt.
Berlack, a New Hampshire native, used the Eastern Region Championships as a stepping stone to earning his spot on the U.S. Ski Team. At 13 years old, he had a tough go at the event his first year, but earned a trip to Canadian K2 Nationals in his second year. Berlack followed that performance with more notable junior finishes including a third place finish at J2 Nationals and a second-place U21 result in downhill at the 2014 U.S. Alpine Championships at Copper Mountain, Colo. Tragically, Berlack was killed in an avalanche alongside his teammate Bryce Astle on January 5, 2015 in Soelden, Austria.
“Ronnie was extremely motivated to qualify and be competitive at regional events,” said his father Steve Berlack. “Racing at those events was a big part of helping his achieve his dream of making the U.S. Ski Team. Ronnie would be hugely honored to have such an important and meaningful event named in his memory.”
In memory of Berlack and Astle, the USSA, together with the Berlack and Astle families, established the Bryce and Ronnie Athlete Snow Safety (BRASS) Foundation in 2015. The foundation aims to increase awareness, promote training and education, and advance investments regarding athlete safety and security. As part of the Championships, the BRASS Foundation will be hosting an educational opportunity on avalanche awareness and safety. The “know before you go” presentation will be featured during the awards banquet attended by athletes, parents, coaches and officials of the Eastern region.
“The USSA is committed to raising awareness about how our athletes and staff can stay safe both on and off the hill,” said USSA President and CEO Tiger Shaw. “The members of the BRASS Foundation have done a phenomenal job leading the charge with these efforts and the USSA will continue to support educational opportunities at events like this and we hope to see them expand in the future.”
Qualifying for regional championships is a season goal for many Eastern region racers. The championships will bring top performers from each of the eight Eastern divisions to compete head to head, hoping to advance to events such as the U16 National Championships.
Release courtesy of USSA