Locals score at X-Games
MT. SNOW, VT. – The Winter X-Games wrapped up Tuesday but not before the Truckee-Tahoe area’s riders had justified the cross country trip by taking seven podium spots.
Gold medals are en route to Tahoe around the necks of Kevin Jones for slopestyle, Shannon Dunn for superpipe, and Shaun Palmer, who redeemed his Squaw Valley Ultra Cross mishap by taking gold in the Ultra Cross at Mt. Snow, Vt.
Palmer and Dunn were unavailable for comment but Jones, who took gold in last year’s Winter X slopestyle as well, said that he was happy to come back and back up his performance.
“It was probably the heaviest competition I’ve ever been in,” Jones said. “You had to step it up. I came out, had fun and I won.”
Dunn continued her uncrackable consistency. Her superpipe repertoire includes an X-Games gold in 1997 and a silver in 1999. Though she missed the Winter X last year, she took first in five other competitions. Dunn continued her strong performance at this year’s Winter X, taking a silver in slopestyle.
As expected Tahoe’s women were fast. In the skiercross Tahoe put six skiers in the top 12. Chiara Lawrence repeated her podium worthy performance of last year, and took the bronze medal, edging past Park City’s golden girl, Megan Brown. The Canadian Aleisha Cline took gold and the Swedish Magdalena Jonsson took silver.
Lawrence came into the final heat gunning for gold. She had the fastest qualifying time, and had won her semifinal heat.
“I was hoping to pull it off again in the finals but got squeezed out in the start,” she said.
Rounding out the field for the Tahoe ladies, was Lela Hebard in fifth, newcomer Katie Shackelford in seventh, Michaela Boyle in eighth, Christy Kromer in tenth, and last year’s gold medalist, Anik Demers in eleventh.
For the men, Sugar Bowl’s Bill Hudson narrowly missed the bronze in the skiercross, kept off the podium by the Frenchman Enak Gavaggio in third and the Swede Tomas Anderson in second. While Hudson, who placed second last year, came up short, at least the Euros didn’t have all the fun. Sun Valley’s Zach Christ was fastest and took the gold.
Tahoe’s hucksters showed up and threw down in the big air. Squaw Valley’s Evan Raps and C.R. Johnson placed second and third respectively, behind the Big Sky’s Tanner Hall.
Despite strong finishes, both say that they were robbed by incompetent judges unable to keep up with the rapidly evolving sport.
Going into the third jump former Skiboarder Mike Nick was in first place and the “newschool” was howling. Both Johnson and Raps say they spent the time waiting for their last jump giving the judges a piece of their mind.
“The judging was totally whack,” Raps said. “My first jump was 10 times better than Nick’s and he crushed my first jump score. I don’t think Tanner deserved first. He wasn’t able to get enough speed because he is so small. His amplitude was lacking. Everybody knows something weird happened.”
Skogen Sprang, injured and absent from this year’s X-Games, watched from home. Uninvolved as he was, he possibly brings a little objectivity to the issue.
“We definitely need more consistent judging from event to event,” Sprang said. “But I thought they did pretty good at the X-Games.”
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