ASPEN, CO (April 5) – The term nail biter was brought to a whole new level Saturday as Pete Thorndike (Meredith, NH) claimed the men’s national championship, the overall alpine crown and a brand spankin’ new Chevy S-10 ZR5 with a parallel giant slalom win from the U.S. Snowboard Finals Powered by Chevy Trucks. Stacia Hookom (Edwards, CO) grabbed the PGS victory for the women edging friend and teammate Lisa Kosglow (Boulder, CO) in a race that was too close for the naked eye to call.
Ben Fairchild III (Kirkland, WA) finished second for the men followed by Jeff Greenwood (Boulder, CO), while Michelle Gorgone (Sudbury, MA) nabbed the third spot for the women and the junior national championship. David Manthei (Angel Fire, NM) won the men’s junior national championship, while Kosglow prevailed at the women’s alpine national champion after a victory in Friday’s slalom.
The U.S. Snowboard Finals Powered by Chevy Trucks will air April 15 at 4:00 p.m. EST on ESPN.
The Chevy Breakdown
Thorndike, Kosglow and Hookom came into PGS with a shot at winning the overall alpine crown. All Kosglow and Hookom had to do was make it onto the podium and in true Hollywood form both went to battle in the final placing Thorndike in a must win situation after missing the podium in Friday’s slalom.
“There was no more intense way for this to end,” said Thorndike after both Kosglow and Hookom pelted him with snowballs in the finish area following his win. “All three of us had the truck in our sights going into today’s race and sure enough all three of us ended up in the final. It was really scary for me because all ‘Koz’ and Hookom had to do was podium, but I had to win — I really can’t describe how excited I am, but I’m pretty sure I’ll be smiling for a while.”
Hookom agreed. “It was the best possible scenario today,” she explains. “To have three contenders for the truck riding at their very best and challenging one another in a competitive and supportive way — that’s what competition is all about. We all won today and that’s the best part about it. Pete took the truck, Kosglow took the overall women’s alpine crown and I won today, so it really worked out perfect.”
The women’s final was run first and for 20 minutes Hookom was the proud winner of the truck with run to decide the winner. Knowing that one of the girls was going to win, he had a long lift ride to the top of the Aspen Highlands Thunderbowl to think.
“It was a long ride to the top,” said Thorndike, “but I decided not to think about the truck at all. So much had been built up on this event and the only way for me to focus was for me to block it out entirely. Today was super tough and for me, it was more pressure than the Olympic qualifications, but it all worked out and now I can’t even believe that I won.”
After grabbing $10,000 with a season opening win at the Park City Grand Prix, Thorndike went on to smoke the Mount Bachelor event for another 10 G’s before closing out the Grand Prix series with a PGS sweep.
“It’s been an amazing year for me, I’m easily riding the best that I ever have and there’s a lot of reasons for that. I’ve been really focused this season, but I’ve also made a couple of equipment changes that have made a huge difference. I switched to Donek snowboards, which has made a huge difference and I’ve also gone to a little softer boot. Both changes have made me feel a lot more comfortable with my riding and has given me a lot of confidence with my riding.”
Hookom and Kosglow swapped podium spots all season, but it’s been a friendly battle as the two travel, train and basically live together while on the World Cup tour. After the first run in Saturday’s PGS final, Hookom had a .02 second advantage over ‘Koz’ going into the second run.
“The course got a lot harder as the day went on and racing Lisa didn’t make it any easier on me,” said Hookom. “She such a tough competitor and I knew that she’d be right with me the entire time, so I had to focus on the finish line and my own run if I wanted to win. I’m proud that I put myself in a situation to be racing her in the final and for a shot at the truck.”
With the ever-present risk of crashing, Hookom laid it all out on the line riding on edge for all nine races as conditions continued to change. Morning sun was quickly covered as clouds moved in making for flat light on a course that progressively became choppy as the day went on.
“There was one corner that I just couldn’t hit right all day and then I finally nailed it in my first run against Lisa. I knew that I was good enough to win and once I hit that corner, my confidence was set, but .02 seconds isn’t really an advantage when your racing her. I’m felling really proud that I was able to hold on for the last run,” said Hookom.
In a final that saw everyone from young up-and-comers to top riders on the Canadian national team to the best riders in the country, the U.S. Snowboard Finals proved to be an event with a lot of tough competition.
“The USSA and Chevy Trucks have set this event up to where it has the best competition and it is an event that everyone really want’s to win,” added Hookom. “The six people that stood on the podium today where there because they rode strong and deserved to be there. Nothing was given out today, you had to ride hard to win.”
The U.S. finals also marked the last race for U.S. team veteran and ’02 Olympian Sondra Van Ert (Ketchum, ID), who will be spending some more time around the house after a racing career that stretches 30 years, nine of which were with the U.S. Snowboard team. Van Ert showed that she could go out on top, charging her way through finals and ending the day in 4th behind Gorgone, the young speedster.
The U.S. Snowboard Finals Powered by Chevy Trucks concludes Sunday with superpipe starting at 8:25 a.m. from Buttermilk Mountain. Immediately following the superpipe finals the overall freestyle championship will be tallied and another Chevy S-10 ZR5 will be awarded. Punk legends The Vandals will play a free concert at the base of the superpipe to cap the Grand Prix series. U.S. Snowboard team riders will also be on hand at 4:30 p.m. for an autograph session with free posters at the Chevy Truck Island Chill Out.
U.S. SNOWBOARD FINALS POWERED BY CHEVY TRUCKS
Aspen, CO – April 5
Men’s Parallel Giant Slalom
1. Pete Thorndike, Meredith, NH
2. Ben Fairchild III, Kirkland, WA
3. Jeff Greenwood, Boulder, CO
4. Jerome Sylvestre, Canada
5. Philippe Berube, Canada
Women’s Parallel Giant Slalom
1. Stacia Hookom, Edwards, CO
2. Lisa Kosglow, Boulder, CO
3. Michelle Gorgone, Sudbury, MA
4. Sondra Van Ert, Ketchum, ID
5. Aimee Newton, Canada