Olympic U.S. Parallel Giant Slalom Team touches down in Vancouver with snowboards in tow

Posted By: Zeke Piestrup on February 24, 2010 1:53 pm

CYPRESS MOUNTAIN, BC (Feb. 24) – The U.S. Olympic Snowboarding Parallel Giant Slalom Team touched down at Cypress Mountain ahead of events Friday and Saturday with a simple mission.

“We’re here to try and win medals,” said three-time Olympian and 2002 bronze medalist Chris Klug (Aspen, CO). “To do that, you’re going to have to go for it – ride really aggressively, take some chances, and absolutely go for it. I think that’s what all three of us are here to do, and we’re all capable of that.”

Klug is joined by 2006 Olympian Tyler Jewell (Steamboat Springs, CO) on the men’s side, while Michelle Gorgone (Boston) will represent the USA for the women.

They trained at Mount Washington on Vancouver Island, attempting to get used to the conditions in the Pacific Northwest as teams from Germany, Sweden and Switzerland joined the U.S. for trial races.

“We had an awesome training session,” Klug said. “It was like a full-on spring break out there. We showed up and the sun came out, and it was just epic conditions.”

Klug has two top-eight results in World Cups this season, including fifth – one spot behind Jewell – in Krieschberg, Austria. His first Olympic experience came 1998 in Nagano.

He has two top-eights in his last three World Cups and ten podiums in his career, but even more powerful is his experience off the slopes, where he overcame a liver transplant in 2000.

“I’m healthier and I’m stronger than I was before my transplant,” said Klug, who started the Chris Klug Foundation to help spread awareness for donations.

“For me, first and foremost, I love doing the sport and that’s why I’m here,” he said. “But a huge motivating factor for me to continue snowboarding and pursue a third Olympic bid was the opportunity to share a message that’s really important to me, and that is the life-saving message of organ and tissue donation. I’m here to do because of it.”

Jewell topped the team selection process and was the ninth-ranked World Cup rider in 2008. He said his experience working with the U.S. Ski and Snowboard Team at its Center of Excellence in Park City, UT, has raised his game to a new level.

“Every year I’ve been at this, I’ve been able to kind of add another piece to the puzzle,” he said. “It’s just so clear to me now. I was there at the doors waiting for the grand opening (of the Center of Excellence).”

Gorgone has seven World Cup podiums, with the last coming a year ago in Spain. She said her previous Olympic experience prepared her better for these Games.

“I definitely think I learned a lot from Torino,” said Gorgone, who was 22nd. “It’s kind of a circus here, so any experience that you can get and kind of process is good.”

Gorgone will race first on Friday, with qualifications beginning at 10 a.m. PT. Finals are set to begin at 1:31 p.m. The men will have the same schedule for their competition Saturday.

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