Tahoe area competitors excell at X games
Beyond the hype, beyond the jargon, beyond hazardous wind conditions that caused the rescheduling of events and changes in venue, the fourth annual Winter X-Games from Mount Snow, Vt. still provided a wild and unexpected weekend of snowsport of the alternative nature.
While there were numerous familiar faces in familiar places on the podium, this year’s X-Games also had several rookie X-ers bringing home the gold. Notable among those is Anik Demers, a native of Quebec who has trained at Squaw Valley the past two seasons. The Olympic Valley resident came from behind to win gold in the woman’s skiercross event last Friday. Racing with a knee she dislocated at the Red Bull Ultra Cross event held at Squaw Valley USA Jan.16-17, Demers used the last jump on the course to edge out the Gravity Games skiercross gold medalist Chiara Lawrence of Olympic Valley for first. Lawrence led for the majority of the race, but an aggressive finish and an aerodynamic tuck by Demers pushed her to victory.
Wednesday’s qualifier was the first time Demers competed since her injury as she skipped the Gravity Games at Mammoth Mountain. Demers qualified fourth.
“I started skiing yesterday (Wednesday) and I felt really strong,” she said. “(The qualifying) gave me confidence. My physical therapist and I worked so hard.”
Shaun Palmer captured a gold medal for the fourth year in a row, but not in snowboarder cross, the event that has been all Palmer’s since its X-Games inception. Palmer won the skiercross handily, without ever being threatened in any of his heats. Olympic Valley’s Bill Hudson took the silver and Shane McConkey, also of Olympic Valley, finished fifth after winning the qualifying round on Wednesday. In the boardercross finals, Palmer and eventually champion Drew Neilson bumped in mid-air, and then Canadian Scott Gaffney added insult to injury when he clipped Palmer soon after. Loaded up on a body board, Palmer was taken to a nearby hospital for X-rays. Palmer had a bruised tailbone and bruised ribs.
Truckee’s Kevin Jones earned two medals. The first was a gold for his dominant performance in the slopestyle competition where he smoothly and confidently ran the course. In the best trick competition, which was a revised big air competition because of difficult conditions, Jones earned a bronze. Moved to the slopestyle course instead of the big air venue where Shane Anderson injured his back in practice Saturday, the riders had two runs to share their wares. Peter Line won the event for the men with a switch front side 900 on the last run of the competition.
Line’s winning 900 came on the last run of the competition.
In the women’s Big Air final, Tara Dakides won her second gold medal of these Winter X-Games with a backflip on her first.
Candide Thovex, a 17-year-old Frenchman, won the skier’s Big Air with a 900. Skogen Sprang, who earned second at the Big Air X-Games qualifier at Squaw Valley two weeks ago took second at the X-Games event and Evan Raps, who skies at Squaw Valley finished in third. Jonny Moseley, who finished second at the Gravity Games in the Big Air, was ninth.
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