CYPRESS MOUNTAIN, BC (Feb. 26) – The Netherlands’ Nicolien Sauerbreij won gold in ladies parallel giant slalom Friday, beating Russia’s Ekaterina Ilyukhina in the final. Michelle Gorgone (Boston) finished 14th after losing in the first round on a late charge from Ilyukhina.
As rain pelted the course and workers tried to combat the problem by salting it between rounds, bumpy conditions met the riders as early as qualification, in which Gorgone rode first and laid down the field’s fastest time in 40.19.
She struggled on her second qualifying run – switching courses and finishing 13th – and got a difficult draw for the first round. Still, she nearly made the quarterfinals against Ilyukhina.
“My gate opened four-tenths slower than hers,” said Gorgone, who had lost that margin in the first of two runs against Ilyukhina. “I had to make up that time. I think I did that kind of in the middle, but I made another mistake. Seemed to catch up, and it seemed like maybe I was going to pull it off coming over this last hill.”
But on the last hill Gorgone was forced wide and Ilyukhina made a last-second move to cross the finish line ahead of the American.
“It was just one of those things where you know she’s there, and you’re trying not to make any mistakes,” she said. “And sometimes, when you’re thinking yourself, ‘Don’t make any mistakes, she’s right there,’ of course you make a mistake.”
Gorgone improved on her finish in Torino, where she was 22nd.
Chris Klug (Aspen, CO) and Tyler Jewell (Steamboat Springs, CO) will race in the men’s competition Saturday, with the first round starting at 10 a.m. PT.
“There’s no sport really like it,” Gorgone said. “This is where snowboarding started. It’s fun to watch when it’s not pouring rain and gnarly conditions.”
2010 WINTER OLYMPIC GAMES
Cypress Mountain, BC – Feb. 26
Women’s Parallel Giant Slalom
Gold – Nicolien Sauerbreij, Netherlands
Silver – Ekaterina, Ilyukhina, Russia
Bronze – Marion Kreiner, Austria
4. Selina Joerg, Germany
5. Anke Karstens, Germany
14. Michelle Gorgone, Boston