Going to the Games | SierraSun.com

Going to the Games

Staff reports

Lionel Cironneau / AP fileAndy Finch of Truckee trains for the Olympic snowboard halfpipe competition in Bardonecchia, Italy, last winter. Finch will compete in the Winter X Games next week.

Come Jan. 25, more than a dozen athletes from the Tahoe area will put their skills to the test in the 11th annual Winter X Games.

Of the 14 local athletes, Truckee’s Daron Rahlves is the lone skier ” competing in Skier-X ” while the rest will be vying for hardware in snowboard events.

See below for everything you need to know about each competitor before tuning in to Winter X Games 11.

Daron Rahlves

X Games history: None

Discipline: Skier-X

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Residence: Truckee

Age: 33

Height: 5-9

Weight: 180

Occupation: Skier

Bio: The most accomplished speed skier in American history, Daron Rahlves will compete at the Winter X Games for the first time next week. Fresh off the World Cup of Alpine skiing, Rahlves racked up 28 World Cup podiums (12 victories) and three World Championship podiums over the course of a decade. His most defining moment as a racer was when he won the famous Hahnenkamm downhill in Kitzbühel, Austria, in 2003. From 2000-2003, Rahlves competed in five skiercross races, mostly in Tahoe, and won all but one. Joining old U.S. Ski Team friends like Zach Crist and Casey Puckett in Aspen is a real treat for Rahlves, but he says, “They are not going to let me just show up and stomp on the parade.”

Andy Finch

X Games history: 2nd superpipe 2005; 9th superpipe 2004; 7th superpipe 2002.

Discipline: Snowboard superpipe

Nicknames: Finch Airlines, Pitbull, Finch

Residence: Truckee

Age: 25

Height: 5-7

Weight: 170

Occupation: Snowboarder

Quotes: “I’ve got tons of practice in this week, so I’m looking forward to (X Games 11). I’m just gonna to go big and do my thing. The rest is up to the judges.”

Bio: The high-flying Andy Finch had a rough 2006 season, damaging several joints in his foot at Winter X Games and breaking the radius bone in his left wrist at the 2006 Olympics, where he placed 12th in superpipe. The 2005 Winter X Games superpipe silver medalist got married in Costa Rica in August and is 100 percent healthy heading into his fourth X Games. Finch clinched the Overall U.S. Grand Prix halfpipe title for the second consecutive year in February 2004 and celebrated by winning the Arctic Challenge in Norway that April. In February of the same year Finch also won his first Vans Triple Crown Event. He took first in six major events between January 2004 and September 2004. Finch was brought up as Shaun Palmer’s protege, but the roles were reversed as Palmer learned new pipe tricks from Finch while training in Europe in the fall of 2001. Finch threatens to dominate any halfpipe competition he enters.

Chas Guldemond

X Games history: None

Discipline: Snowboard slopestyle

Nicknames: Chuck G

Residence: Carnelian Bay

Age: 19

Height: 6-1

Weight: 165

Occupation: Construction

Bio: Chas Guldemond is a native East Coast rider who transplanted to Tahoe. In 2006 he took third place in slopestyle at the invitational Vans Cup at Northstar-at-Tahoe. Then, at the U.S. Open, eyes were wide open as Guldemond began to up the ante with Cab 1080 skills next to Shaun White in slopestyle. White won, but Guldemond placed second and earned the title of Best Rookie and a brand new sled. He also was nominated for Transworld Snowboarding’s 2006 Rookie of the Year, although Danny Davis won. Guldemond does not consider himself a professional snowboarder as he earns a living from construction and by making custom camper shell caps for trucks.

Jamie Anderson

X Games history: 15th superpipe 2006; 8th Boarder-X 2006; 3rd slopestyle 2006; 8th Boarder-X 2005; 9th Boarder-X 2004.

Discipline: Snowboard slopestyle, superpipe, Boarder-X

Nicknames: Jammin’ Jamie

Residence: South Lake Tahoe

Age: 16

Height: 5-2

Weight: 115

Occupation: 11th grade student

Bio: Competing in all three disciplines of snowboarding, 16-year-old Jamie Anderson edged Shaun White out of the history books last year as the youngest medalist in Winter X Games history. Since earning the bronze medal in her first slopestyle appearance at Winter X Games 10, Anderson stood on the podium six times in the 2006 season. She was also nominated as the 2006 “Rookie of the Year” by Transworld Snowboarding magazine. Her strengths include her aggressive and fearless riding style and adaptability to versatile courses. Anderson picked up sponsors before the age of 10 and at 13 became the youngest competitor in X Games history in 2004.

Elena Hight

X Games history: 12th superpipe 2006; 8th superpipe 2005; 6th superpipe 2004; INC superpipe 2003.

Discipline: Snowboard superpipe

Residence: South Lake Tahoe

Age: 17

Height: 5-1

Weight: 115

Occupation: High school senior

Bio: Elena Hight is coming off a momentous 2006 season highlighted by a sixth-place finish in the snowboard halfpipe at her first Olympic appearance in Torino at age 16. Hight returns for her fourth Winter X Games appearance, although she actually has been invited to a total of five ” she had to pull out of her first invite at age 13 because of an injury in practice. During the 2006 season, she podiumed in six of the eight halfpipe competitions she entered. When not snowboarding, Hight still finds time for education and focuses on her studies in high school.

Nate Holland

X Games history: 1st Boarder-X 2006; 3rd ultracross 2005; 6th Boarder-X 2005; 1st ultracross 2004; 7th Boarder-X 2004; INC Boarder-X 2003; 7th ultracross 2003; 17th Boarder-X 2003.

Discipline: Boarder-X

Residence: Squaw Valley

Age: 28

Height: 5-10

Weight: 185

Occupation: Snowboarder

Bio: Nate Holland dominated all of his 2006 Winter X Games heats and took home the gold. He was a favorite for the Americans at the 2006 Olympics but finished a disappointing 14th. Post Olympics, he ended the FIS World Cup season ranked No. 4, with three podiums during the 2006 season. Confident and aggressive with a strong freestyle background, the U.S. Snowboard team veteran is known for his no-holds-barred style of racing. He spent the offseason doing 20 starts a day from a gate in his driveway. Holland was named U.S. Boardercrosser of the Year in 2004 by Ski Racing Magazine. His ’03/’04 season was his best ever, with four podium finishes, including two wins. He also has competed in slopestyle and big air and is an avid wakeboarder during the summer.

Jayson Hale

X Games history: 3rd Boarder-X 2006; 18th Boarder-X 2005; 15th ultracross 2004; 8th Boarder-X 2004.

Residence: Sugar Bowl

Nicknames: Jay

Age: 21

Height: 5 ft 9

Weight: 150 lbs

Occupation: Snowboarder

Bio: Jayson Hale runs every race like he’s going to win. Unfortunately, that backfired at the Olympics during a training run. Pushing too hard he blew out his knee. After surgery on his knee and shoulder (from a previous injury), Hale got back on his board in November and said, “This year I’m going trade [my bronze] in for the gold.” He placed third at the 2005 World Championships, and has been snowboarding since he was 4 and competing since he was 6.

Shaun Palmer

X Games history: 19th Boarder-X 2004; 29th Skier-X 2004; 6th Boarder-X 2002; 1st ultracross 2001; 12th Boarder-X 2001; 4th Boarder-X 2000; 1st Skier-X 2000; 15th snowcross 1999; 1st Boarder-X 1999; 14th Biker-X 1999; 6th Skier-X 1999; 1st Boarder-X 1998; 1st Boarder-X 1997; 24th speed 1997; 1st downhill 1997; 1st Boarder-X 1997.

Nicknames: The Palm, Mini-Shred

Residence: South lake Tahoe

Age: 38

Height: 5-9

Weight: 170

Occupation: Snowboarder

Bio: Palmer’s multi-sport talent caused USA Today in 1998 to ask the question, “Is This The World’s Greatest Athlete?” The Palm believes so and he’s returning to the Winter X Games for one reason: To keep Shaun White from passing him in Winter X Games gold medal history. They both have six gold, but Palm won them in three different sports and four disciplines. The oldest athlete in the Boarder-X field is a colorful character who announced his retirement from snowboarding in 2002 after suffering a concussion during the Boarder-X semifinal. After taking two seasons off to pursue a motocross career, he came back to his snowboarding roots to make a push for the Olympics ” and he did, only to rip his Achilles tendon just days later. The injury kept him out of the 2006 Winter X Games and the Olympics.

Joanie Anderson

X Games history: 14th superpipe 2006; 2nd Boarder-X 2006; 16th superpipe 2005; 4th Boarder-X 2005; 13th superpipe 2004; 5th Boarder-X 2004.

Discipline: Boarder-X

Residence: South Lake Tahoe

Age: 20

Height: 5-4

Weight: 145

Occupation: Snowboarder, college sophomore

Bio: Joanie Anderson has made a name for herself competing in both boardercross and pipe, but it’s in Boarder-X where she really shines. In three years at Winter X, she has made the final each year, taking home her first medal, silver, in 2006. The middle of seven children, Anderson comes from a competitive family and competes against her younger sister, Jamie, in Boarder-X. She has made the Boarder-X finals both years she has competed at Winter X, even though she was an amatuer competing against a field of pro riders. A member of the U.S. Snowboarding C Team, Anderson is a sophomore at Lake Tahoe Community College, where she takes classes in the fall and now competes fulltime at the pro level. Focused on making her way to the Olympic team, she mainly competes in boardercross but does a handful of halfpipe and slopestyle events.

Hannah Teter

X Games history: DNC superpipe 2006; 3rd superpipe 2005; 1st superpipe 2004; 15th slopestyle 2004; 3rd superpipe 2003; 8th slopestyle 2003.

Discipline: Snowboard superpipe

NickNames: Piggy, Little Oinker

Residence: Meyers (part time)

Age: 19

Height: 5-6

Weight: 140

Occupation: Snowboarder

Bio: From winning the 2006 ESPY award for Best Action Sports Athlete Female to winning Olympic gold in the women’s halfpipe competition at the 2006 Torino Olympics, the extremely gregarious Hannah Teter returns to Aspen for her fourth Winter X Games appearance. Teter seeks to regain gold in the superpipe after being the Winter X Games Eight champion. Teter developed her sense of style by emulating her four older brothers and enjoys getting amplitude along with tweaking out her grabs. As the youngest of five children and the only female, Teter sums up her success by saying, “The big bros were the inspiration, parents the foundation, I was gifted with passion and that combination is enough to make a child fly.” Most recently, Teter created “Hannah’s Gold,” which is a homemade maple syrup in the Teter family to benefit World Vision’s work to meet the desperate needs of Africa’s children.

Pat Holland

X Games history: 9th Boarder-X 2006; 4th ultracross 2005; 15th Boarder-X 2005.

Residence: Dollar Hill

Age: 24

Height: 6-0

Weight: 175

Occupation: Snowboarder

Bio: Pat Holland went to the 2006 Olympics, but only as a spectator to watch his older brother, 2006 Winter X Games gold medalist Nate Holland. After being a part of the event on the spectator end, Pat is setting his sites for the 2010 Olympics, moving to Tahoe so he can train more. At Winter X Games 11, Pat’s board clipped Ben Jacobellis’ in the quarterfinal, sending Ben to the hospital with a concussion. Pat gave up building pipes and parks at Jackson Hole, Wyo., so he could focus on boardercross in 2005.

– Info from http://www.EXPN.com

Jabra X Jam entries

Three Tahoe-area Boarder-X riders earned an invitation to Winter X Games 11 by placing in the top two at the Jabra X Jam at Sugar Bowl this past Sunday. The Jabra X Jam was the final event to earn an invitation. Below are the three:

– Kirsten Harris, Squaw Valley, 2nd at Jabra X Jam

– Dena Melinn-Waller, South Lake Tahoe, 1st at Jabra X Jam

– Ralph Backstrom, Squaw Valley, 2nd at Jabra X Jam