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Shredding at the Winter X Games

JAMIE BALL

Three Truckee residents have been selected to compete in the 1998 ESPN Winter X Games.

Skiboarder Bryce Raney, snowboarder Tara Zwink and snowboarder Jim Rippey, all of Truckee, will vie for medals and cash prizes at the X Games, which are held in Crested Butte, Colo. Jan. 15-18.

Raney, who trains at Squaw Valley, is a professional skiboarder, a less popular sport he would like to bring more attention to. Skiboarding employs a shorter, single ski, and has not yet been featured in an official competition. The X Games will bring the first.

Raney will compete against 19 other skiboarders.

Jim Rippey, a snowboarder, will be competing in the boarder x, big air and slopestyle competitions at the games. After his turn in the games, he will fly to Nagano, Japan to provide television commentary during the 1998 Winter Olympic Games.

Snowboarder Tara Zwink sprained her ankle during the big air contest of 1997’s Winter X Games, still managing a second-place finish.

Zwink said she is still plagued with torn tendons, an injury serious enough to put her appearance at the 1998 games in question.

She has been out on the slopes every day doing her best to heal and get back in shape. Zwink said she realizes her health comes first.

“It’s up in the air right now. I really want to do it, but I don’t want to get injured more,” said Zwink, who added she will know in the next week or so if she will make it to the games.

Zwink currently holds first- and third- place standings in national big air contests from 1997. At the X Games, she will compete in the slopestyle and halfpipe categories.

With four categories for men and women, snowboarding is the largest event at the Winter X Games.

The games will feature quite a few winter sports, including snowboarding, ice climbing, snow mountain bike racing, free skiing, snocross and skiboarding. Still, the main focus of the event is snowboarding.

Zwink said snowboarding is finally starting to get some of the respect it deserves.

“That the spectators tune in to watch says a lot for the sport,” Zwink said, noting recent MTV specials which feature snowboarding and other winter sports.

Ali Zacaroli of the Snow Sports Industries of America echoed Zwink’s sentiments.

“This is a scary and exciting year for snowboarding. The battle cry has always been to maintain individuality but we’re not on the fringe anymore,” Zacaroli said. “We’re part of the sports echelon.”

The 1998 games mark the second-ever winter version of the event, which began four years ago with summer games.

New to the games this year are the free skiing, skiboarding and snocross events.

Snocross uses open sleds which cruise in excess of 70 mph on straightaways and 60 mph on jumps.

Crossover events will be held simultaneously at Snow Summit Mountain Resort, Big Bear Lake, Calif.

Olympic Valley residents Jeff McKitterick and Tayt Tindal were also invited to the games.

McKitterick will be featured in the free skiing portion of the games, Tindal in the skiboarding races.

According to ESPN, more than 200 athletes will compete in 19 events for medals and more than $200,000 in prize money.

ESPN will give 17 hours of coverage to the games on its networks.

ESPN estimates 378 million viewers around the world will witness coverage of this year’s X Games.


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