A few surprises at Red Bull Ultra Cross
After an ultra-swing in weather and ultra-wet conditions, the third annual Red Bull Ultra Cross ultimately went off without too many bumps, spills or falls. Or surprises.
Shaun Palmer continued his utter domination of the boardercross format races, winning each of the heats he raced on Monday. Palmer and his skiing partner, Chris Hernandez, represented Lake Tahoe’s South Shore well in winning the $10,000 first prize. The Ultra Cross pairs one snowboarder and one skier in a relay-style race where four snowboarders race each other at a time over a course of gap jumps, banked turns and rollers. When the snowboarder crosses the finish line, the starting gate is electronically triggered to open and the skier exits the gate. The first skier to cross the finish line wins the heat.
Hernandez had a relatively easy day, despite a drastic change in the weather from Sunday’s bluebird qualifying round with Palmer staking sizable leads for the South Lake Tahoe resident and Heavenly skier all the rainy day. During the time-trial qualifiers, in which 100 teams competed, Palmer had the second best time overall, helping the team establish the pole position for the competition the next day. With a steady rain turning the recently fallen snow into a cement slope, the course was slowed down considerably for the men’s field of 32 and women’s field of 16. However, the course, which ran past Squaw One chairlift to the base of KT-22, was consistent the entire day and conditions did not deteriorate too much.
North Shore locals Shane McConkey and Greg Nevolo finished second for the men, earning $5,000 between the two of them.
On the women’s side, the competition was definitely closer. Brittney Mahanna, of Jackson Hole, Wyo. and her teammate Megan Brown, of Park City, Utah took the first place prize of $5,500 overcoming a tight field. In only her second skiercross event ever, Brown staved off pre-race anxiety and tough competition by Noel Lyons and Charlotte Moats and pulled out the victory for a share of $5,500.
Brown said the only adjustment that had to be made between the two days of racing was a change in ski wax.
“The course ran consistent today,” said Brown after winning Monday. “The only real difficulty (with conditions) was the flat light at the end of the course. I overshot my landing on the bumps.”
Brown remains in town for the Paul Mitchell X-Games Qualifier for skiercross before heading to Mammoth Mountain to compete in the first annual Winter Gravity Games, both of which she is prepared for.
“Anything can happen in skiercross and you have to be ready for that,” said the Ultra Cross woman’s co-champion.
The Red Bull Ultra-Cross will be nationally televised on ESPN, Jan. 30 at 5 p.m. (EST) and ESPN 2, Feb. 2 at 4:30 p.m.
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