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The North American snowboarding season is officially on as the Vans Triple Crown of Snowboarding 2000 Mountain Dew Pro Nationals kicked off today in Breckenridge, Colorado today. On the first day of the event riders competed in Snowboard Cross qualifiers and practiced in the halfpipe.

Since the Vans Triple Crown began, the Breckenridge event has become like homecoming for professional snowboarders. It’s the first event of the year and everyone is amped. “It’s amazing. Everyone is here,” said big air competitor Jason McAlister. “I looked up at the pipe yesterday and it was like watching Coolboarders.”

Breckenridge worked wonders with the venue and riders were blown away by how great the Colorado snow is. It was overcast and cold all day, but that didn’t stop Xavier Delerue of France from edging the brothers Conte in the Snowboard Cross Qualifiers. On the women’s side, last year’s Vans Triple Crown of Snowboarding Champion, Ine Poetzl, smoked the competition by nearly three seconds. Line Oestvold posted the second fastest timed run (52.20 seconds) and finished just 0.04 seconds faster than Marni Yamada.

Delerue, who had knee surgery in July, had no problems with the course. “The course is very good. It’s fast,” he said “The most challenging part was the step up.”

He wasn’t the only Snowboard Crosser riding with a rebuilt knee. Nillard Pilivakis, who finished 13th today, was nursing a recently patched knee but still having fun. “I wouldn’t say this is my favorite course,” she said. “But it’s really good and my knee feels strong so I’m pretty happy.”

In the pipe practice Gian Simmen, fresh off a win in Laax, was riding extremely well and didn’t look like he’d be backing off the throttle anytime soon. Daniel Franck was in the pipe telling people that he’s back. And local favorite Todd Richards was glad to be back home. “I just love this contest because it gives me a chance to sit in my hot tub and hang out at my house,” he said.

This weekend Todd will be competing in the halfpipe and the big air. “I’m stoked about doing the big air,” he said. “Because it take my mind off everything and I don’t get all stressed out.”

Many of the riders weren’t too stoked about the right hand wall of the pipe during practive, but everyone had faith in master halfpipe builder Frank Wells. “The pipe is good, it’s just there’s a big hole in the wall,” said JJ Thomas. “I don’t know why, but they’ll fix it tonight and it will be good.”

Chris Gunnerson tuned up the big air jump and after a couple practice runs riders decided that it was all good and told Gunny and the crew to leave it alone. It was perfect. Tommorrow more than one hundred riders will be flying for a spot in Saturday’s finals.

At the end of the day Steve Van Doren and the crew threw a BBQ/rail sliding contest in front of the lodge with free burgers, hot dogs, M & Ms, and two bike racks pointed down hill. Up for grabs was $200 and a giant Hershey bar for the men and $100 and a box of Oreo cookies for the women. After all kinds of slides, crashes, and trying to light the rail on fire for one last “burning rail” slide, Jason Borgstede walked away with the candy bar and a check for $200.

Stay tuned for more coverage of the Vans Triple Crown of Snowboarding here on Snowboarding Online.

SCHEDULE OF EVENTS

Friday, December 8
· Snowboard Cross
9:00 a.m. – 11:00 a.m. – Finals
11:30 a.m. – Awards
· Halfpipe
10:00 a.m. 12:00 p.m.- Women’s Training
12:30 p.m. – 3:30 p.m. – Men’s Training
· Big Air
11:30 a.m. – 1:15 p.m. – Men’s Practice
1:30 p.m. – 2:30 p.m. – Men’s Heat 1
2:30 p.m. – 3:30 p.m. – Men’s Heat 2

Saturday, December 9
· Halfpipe
8:00 a.m. – 8:50 a.m. – Halfpipe Warm-up
9:00 a.m. – 10:50 a.m. – Men’s Heats 1-3
11:00 a.m. – 12:45 p.m. – Halfpipe Warm-up
12:50 p.m. – 2:00 p.m. – Men’s Heeats 4-5
2:10 p.m. – 3:20 p.m. – Women’s Heats 1-2
· Big Air
9:30 a.m. – 11:00 a.m. – Big Air Practice
11:15 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. – Big Air Finals

Sunday, December 10
· Halfpipe
9:00 a.m. – 9:30 a.m. – Halfpipe Warm-up #1
9:30 a.m. – 10:00 a.m. – Women’s Heat 1
10:00 a.m. – 10:30 a.m. – Halfpipe Warm-up #2
10:30 a.m. – 11:00 a.m. – Men’s Heat 1
11:30 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. – Finalist Warm-up
12:10 p.m. – 1:10 p.m. – Women’s Finals
1:15 p.m. – 2:30 p.m. – Men’s Finals
2:45 p.m. – Vans Final Awards

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