I headed back up to Lake Placid to cover the World Cup snowboard events. These included a Snowboard Cross, Progression Session Team Snowboard Cross and Parallel Giant Slalom. Mother Nature cooperated and the weather was sunny and fairly warm. I had a chance to witness some of the best riders in the world compete in a number of events.
I was staying at the Mountain Brook Lodge located 5 minutes from Whiteface Mountain. The Mountain Brook has cozy rooms with knotty pine walls and all the rooms have refrigerators, microwaves, coffee makers and cable TV. They have an Adirondack Gift Shop on the premises and a Continental breakfast is included. The lodge is run by Al Armstrong an retired Marine and his wife. The first night free for Iraq and Afghanistan veterans and their families and their prices are quite reasonable ($79-$89). One unique thing about this lodge is that check-out time for skiers is AFTER you ski that day, so you can come back to the lodge, take a shower, change and then hit the road. When you make a reservation, don’t forget to tell them that you found them in the Ski Bum News.
For those of you who are not familiar with these events, let me give you a brief over-view.
Snowboard Cross (SBX) is an event where four riders at a time line up at the starting gate and fly down a course which contains jumps, berms, chicanes with banked turns and short straight sections, reaching speeds as fast as 45 MPH. Pushing and shoving is not allowed BUT “incidental” contact IS allowed, often resulting in spectacular crashes and lead-changes which add to the excitement of this hair-raising event. At the end of each heat, the riders placing 1st and 2nd both move on to race the two who placed 1st and 2nd in another heat. This narrows down the field to the final four competitors who vie for the Gold.
A Progression Session is a Big Air event where snowboarders are towed by snowmobiles up a ramp at approximately 40 mph and execute aerial maneuvers, including inverted jumps, 720s, 1080’s and other sick tricks, launching themselves off an incredible 20-foot jump and then riding up a 20-foot wall after the jump for extra points.
Team SBX competition is an event where two men and two women are paired in separate events. When one teammate crosses the finish line, it triggers the start gate at the top of the mountain for the other racer to begin.
In Parallel Giant Slalom, two riders race each other mano-a-mano down a giant slalom course just like in skiing.
It was a great day for the USA as Lindsey Jacobellis and Nick Baumgartner both took Gold Medals in the individual SBX. This was the 7th SBX of the 2007/2008 Snowboard FIS World Cup and the only U.S. World Cup competition this season. Nick, the reigning World Champion, was able to ace out Canada’s Maelle Ricker who came in 2nd. Tom Velisek (Canada) placed 3rd in this thrill-packed event. David Speiser from Germany was 4th and Graham Watanabe (USA) just missed the podium and placed 5th. There were plenty of spills and crashes that thrilled the crowd, many of whom watched the event on a big-screen TV at the finish line. This race was held on the Boreen course at White Face Mountain with the finish line at the base of the mountain.
Beautiful Lindsey Jacobellis nailed 1st place for the women with Canadian Maelle Ricker in 2nd and her teammate Dominique Maltais in 3rd. Helene Olafsen (Norway) was 4th. Spills and thrills was the name of the game and there were a number of crashes in the women’s event and the lead often changed hands during a heat where the field was narrowed down to the final heat with 4 riders going for the Gold.
It was Jacobellis’ fourth consecutive victory at Lake Placid and it meant she took the lead in the overall World Cup standings while she sits 350 points behind Canada’s Maelle Ricker in the SBX snowboard event standings.
She told reporters that she “loved the course” at Whiteface and put on a really great show for the local crowd who cheered her on to victory.
This was Baumgartner’s first career World Cup win. He stuck to his game plan, got the lead and kept his line through the turns.
That evening, I had the pleasure of witnessing my first-ever Progression Session and it was awesome! Guys and gals were going really BIG with some crashing and burning. The event took place under the lights at the Olympic ice skating oval on Main St. in the town of Lake Placid. The Press Project, a live band started off the event and fireworks to go along with the music at the end of the festivities. Norway’s Stian Sivertzen went big and won the Paul Mitchell Progression Session with a great trick in this Big Air competition. Nick Baumgartner who won the SBX event was 2nd and Mike Phelabaum from Saranac Lake, NY was 3rd. Local shredder Mike Phelabaum from Saranac Lake, NY landed a sick cork 5 that got him $2,500 in prize money for the Rip It Trick of the Day. You can see the event on Versus when the Paul Mitchell Progression Session will be aired Sunday, March 16 at 6 p.m. ET. If you look carefully, you might see me take a huge belly-flop as I came down from shooting the event on the top of the ramp.
After the event, I stopped off for a beer at Wiseguys, a local bar and some of the U.S. Snowboard Team showed up to party with their fans. We all had a good time while Nate Holland tended bar. It was fun to meet these world-class riders and party with them. Budweiser was there doing a promotion and they set up a camera so fans could have their photos taken with members of the U.S. Ski Team. I introduced two gals that I was dancing with to Nick Baumgartner, who posed with the girls as they all hammed it up for the camera holding Buds while wearing Budweiser shirts. I took the opportunity to congratulate Nate and point out that this was his lucky day. He not only came in 1st in the SBX, 2nd in the Progression Session but he also got a free Budweiser shirt! He laughed demonstrating his excellent sense of humor.
The team SBX event was held on Sunday at the same venue. The Lindsey Jacobellis and Callan Chythlook-Sifsof capitalized on strong teamwork and all out aggression to win the exhibition Team SBX event at the Visa U.S. Snowboarding Cup Sunday at Whiteface Mountain outside Lake Placid.
It was a great race filled with crashes, spills and tight finishes. The U.S. Mens Team’s efforts were dashed in the semi-finals when Graham Watanabe crashed and was not able to continue in the re-run of that heat, relegating the U.S. to a 4th place finish.
For the men, it was France in 1st (Vincent Valery, Pierre Vaultier), Canada placed 2nd (Drew Neilson, Tom Velisek), and Norway 3rd (Stian Sivertzen, Oeystein Wallin), and then the United States (Graham Watanabe, Sun Valley, ID; Nate Holland, Squaw Valley, CA).
The women’s event was equally exciting with better results on the podium for the U.S. with the United States in 1st (Lindsey Jacobellis, Stratton Mountain, VT; Callan Chythlook-Sifsof, Girdwood, AK), Canada 2nd (Maelle Ricker, Dominique Maltais), Austria in 3rd (Susanne Moll, Manuela Riegler) and Norway 4th (Helene Olafsen, Stine Walle).
Jacobellis and Chythlook-Sifsof touted their patriotism by donning USA tee shirts in red, white and blue.
Parallel Giant Slalom
There ware victories for Russia and France in the parallel competition At the NOKIA Snowboard FIS World Cup at Whiteface. Svetlana Boldikova (RUS) and Mathieu Bozzetto (FRA) won the season’s sixth parallel giant slalom. It was Svetlana 1st career win, beating Fraenzi Maegert-Kohli (SUI) who came in 2nd for the ladies’. It was an all-Austrian duel for 3rd with Heidi Neururer crossing the finish line only one tenth of a second ahead of teammate Claudia Riegler.
For the men, it was Mathieu Bozzetto from France was 1st, just inching out USA’s Tyler Jewell who placed 2nd with Benjamin Karl (Austria) 3rd and Zan Kosir (Slovenia) in 4th