Meet Ali Sacash-Johnson and Leslee Schader, USASA’s newest Series Directors of the Mt Hood Series.
Ali Sacash-Johnson and Leslee Schader met when their kids who are about the same age (9-12) were a part of the Mt. Hood Meadows Freeride Team. Ali’s kids freeski, Leslee’s kids snowboard. Soon enough they were spending their weekends standing at the top of USASA event courses or taking laps between heats with the whole gang. So when long time Mt. Hood Series Directors Mike and Jen Fitzsimmons decided it was time to move on Leslee and Ali swooped in and volunteered to take the wheel.
Anyone who has been at a USASA event and seen the many hats and juggling skills Series Directors wear and possess can appreciate the daunting task of a Series Director but these two women are excited about the opportunity and adventure ahead. “I’m excited to get more kids involved,” Leslee said, “there are so many kids at meadows that don’t really know about USASA so I’m excited to get the word out and get more kids and families involved and make it better.”
Which based on Ali and Leslee’s collective background experience should not be a problem. Before Salomon moved its headquarters from the Northwest to Utah, Ali put her MBA in Sports Business to good use as Salomon’s Brand Manager for 8 years. Now, the mother of 10 and 12-year-olds, Ali runs her own consumer research agency, Field & Scout, that works with a variety of outdoor sports brands from Arcteryx to Keen.
Leslee, a cardiac nurse at Oregon Health & Science University Hospital, is equally versed in the snowboard and freeski scene having come through the USASA snowboarding pipeline making the transition from USASA regional event grom to X Games gold medalist and US Olympic team hopeful. As a Bend, OR native, Leslee grew up competing in the ***Northwest Series alongside other snowboarding legends like Josh Dirksen, Temple Cummins and Circe Wallace competing at the 2nd Annual USASA National Championships at Timberline Resort in 1991. Now, everything seems to have come full circle. “I want to pay it forward to the next generation and have the Mount Hood Series be a positive force and place for kids and their families,” Leslee said.
Ali concurs, “The sport has given me such amazing experiences and I'm in a time in my life when I want to give back myself and support the next generation and keep that sense of community at the mountain.”
They both also recognize that taking over the Mt. Hood Series in the midst of a global pandemic will bring its own challenges but kids are resilient and Ali appreciates how USASA helps foster that resilience. “USASA gives kids a real way to deal with competition--- maybe you win or maybe you don’t but you deal with that and the lessons that come along with it.” Leslee continues, “There have been so many setbacks in 2020 that we’re excited to bring a little bit of the joy back. To give kids and the families something to look forward to.”
*** In 1991, USASA’s Northwest Series covered the entire Northwest region. Now this region is covered by the Mt. Hood Series, Central Oregon Series, Western Washington Series and the Idaho Freeride Series.