USA Snowboarders Eye Podium As 2012 SBX World Cup Season Kicks-Off In Telluride

Posted By: The Ski Channel on December 15, 2011 12:05 am

The USANA Snowboardcross Cup returned to Telluride, Colorado on Wednesday, December 14th, to kick-off the 2012 LG Snowboard FIS World Cup season. The four-day, fast-paced snowboarding competition features some of the world’s best athletes in parallel giant slalom, individual snowboardcross and team snowboardcross events.

Lead by the 2006 and 2010 Olympic Gold medalist Seth Wescott (Sugarloaf, ME), a strong United States Snowboarding squad is hoping to take an early World Cup lead – and bring home the first ever home-turf-win in Telluride – by the time the event concludes on Saturday, December 17th. Telluride is the sole stop of the international competition series in the U.S.

The United States will showcase an accomplished team of over 20 snowboarders, including Wescott, seven-time X Games champion Lindsey Jacobellis (Stratton Mountain, VT) and six-time X Games titlist Nate Holland (Squaw Valley, CA). Other U.S. male riders include, reigning X Games Champion Nick Baumgartner (Iron River, MI).; reigning U.S. Champion Jonathan Cheever (Saugus, MA).; and Graham Watanabe (Sun Valley, ID), who has scored five World Cup podiums with two wins. On the women’s side, in addition to Jacobellis, look out for Callan Chythlook-Sifsof (Anchorage, AK), who finished fifth in 2011 FIS World Cup SBX.

                                                                                                                     Wescott was the first man to win Olympic gold in snowboardcross

With a large field of competitors – 67 men and 30 women from 23 nations – the U.S. team has its work cut out for them. Namely, they will have to fend-off an elite group of international contenders including, Canada’s Dominique Maltais, who is the two-time and reigning FIS World Cup SBX champion and Bulgaria’s Alexandra Jekova, who finished second in the 2011 FIS World Cup SBX. As Holland explained, however, a podium-sweep for the US team is possible, “I’m personally looking to start my season with a win, and would love to see a U.S. Snowboarding sweep of the podium, it’s truly possible, now we just have to execute.”

“It’s always interesting to see who emerges as fast at the start of a a new year,” said U.S. Snowboarding head coach, Peter Foley. “These athletes have not raced each other since March. You have to think that Vaultier (Pierre Vaultier of France, last year’s Telluride winner) and Chumpy (Alex Pullin of Australia, third last year) will be fast again.”

The U.S. riders are coming off a 10-day on-snow camp at Telluride on a full-length, training course meticulously prepared by noted designer Jeff Ihaksi, a key component in the potential for success of U.S. snowboarders at the event.

“I’ve never seen our team more fit and riding at such a high level for this time of year. I would really like to see that translate into us being on top of the podium,” added Foley. “Our Telluride camp was amazing. Really the best camp we’ve ever had, with two different courses to work on different skills. We trained hard for six days and then took a three-day break leading into the World Cup. The amount of effort and skill that Telluride put into making us a training venue is unprecedented. It’s the most valuable training we get every season.”

 

          Jacobellis is the most decorated athlete in the history of her sport

“After an amazing camp in Telluride which included two different training courses the whole U.S. Snowboarding SBX Team is up to speed for the season,” noted Holland. “Telluride really rolls out the red carpet for us while were here, it’s starting to feel like a second home in December. I’m personally looking to start my season with a win, and would love to see a U.S. Snowboarding sweep of the podium, it’s truly possible, now we just have to execute.”

This week’s competition also marks the third year for the Team SBX event, which pits four-man teams from each nation againast each other. “We’ll be racing six-man SBX, which I believe results in much more of a dynamic race than four-man,” explained Holland. “The course is big with a lot of touch and go airs, perfect for passing and jockeying for position.”

Holland has 6 X Games golds

New this year, the individual event will debut a new 6-rider head-to-head finals. When asked to comment on that, Holland stated, “We’ll be racing 6 man SBX, which I believe results in much more of a dynamic race than 4-man. The course is big with a lot of touch and go airs, perfect for passing and jockeying for position.”

With the first SBX qualification round under their belt, participants are looking forward to the PGS qualification round and PGS finals on Thursday, December 15th, the SBX finals on Friday, December 16th and the Team SBX Finals on Saturday, December 17th.  So far, forty-eight men and 24 women have qualified for the SBX finals, including Telluride’s own Haegen Kearney. Thursday’s events will run from 9:00-11:00am and 1:00-3:00pm, while Friday’s and Saturday’s competition will run from 12:00-1:15pm.

For those unable to catch the action live at Telluride Mountain Resort, you can watch it on NBC Sports on New Year’s Eve at 5:00 p.m. ET or on January 7th on Versus, starting at 4:00pm. 

Until then, here’s a look back at the 2009 Telluride World Cup!:


For more information and to view the official results, visit ussnowboarding.com.

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