Aspen/Snowmass, CO (January 29, 2000) ¿ Pontus Staahlkloo, the stocky Swede who won Friday’s time trial also took top honors and the ten g’s in today’s Swatch Boardercross main event at Snowmass. Aussie, Marguerite Cossettini (one of Hoy’s Picks) scored her second win of the month and the $5,000 women’s purse ($3,500 after taxes).
Filling the spots next to Pontus on the men’s podium were the undeniable Philippe Conte in second, and Harry Putz in third. As a note to anyone who’s still waving the flag of chance in boardercross’ face, the top three finishers were also the top three qualifiers. Hmmm.
Sure thing, Ine (pronounced “ee-nah”) Poetzl from Austria placed second behind Marguerite in the closest finish anyone could remember. And surprise, Erin Simmons of Canada took third.
Intensity came to a head once the boardercross was underway around noon. Every heat in the men’s competition was stacked with overseas talent¿nobody would be sneaking through the rounds on a fluke (the top three of the six riders advance). Even riders like eight-time World Champion Berti Denervaud of Switzerland and current ISF points leader, Austrian Christoph Maierhofer went down in the first round and were forced to make their way through the losers (elimination) bracket. Christoph went on to race six more times, winning four heats in a row, before losing again in the semis. Berti won three heats before finishing sixth in race twenty nine.
But today was all about strongman Pontus Staahlkloo, part of the two-man Swedish boardercross team. Staahlkloo, who usually competes on the FIS tour, showed his speed by taking first in the time-trial qualifier and then by winning the quarter finals, the semis, and the finals. “Nobody could beat Pontus today,” said a respectful Philippe Conte after the race.
“I got the holeshot,” Pontus explained, “I had it working today.” In the finals, “I really tried to pump the bumps to get speed on the flats, then after the first step-down, I looked back and I kinda knew I had it,” he related. From that point on, all Pontus had to do was pick his line and play it safe.
Pontus is taking only a two-race hiatus from the FIS tour, stopping at the Gravity Games last week and then the Swatch here in Snowmass. While this was his first win on the Swatch tour, he’s no newcomer to beating the big boys. At the Gravity Games, Pontus also won the time trial, edging out Shaun Palmer (beating Palmer was one of his goals last year), but then was eliminated in the first round.
“I’m doing the whole FIS tour which is less competitive, so it’s great to come here and kick ass because this is a harder competition,” Pontus added. Pontus did his ass-kickin’ on next year’s K2 Electra 164 and the Clicker HB step-in system; he also rides for Helly Hansen.
Back in the pack, there was plenty of chaos in the men’s finals, but none of it had an effect on the outcome.
The women’s race was different. Alessia Follador from Italy (she rides at Cortina) smoked her heats all day, moving quickly through the winners bracket. But halfway down the course in the finals, both Follador and Poetzl¿who was following behind her¿ fumbled, opening the door for a poised Marguerite Cossettini (Burton) to swing around the outside.
At the finish, Poetzl nearly passed Marguerite back in a race that seemed impossible to decide. ISF rules state that the winner is determined by the front leg of the rider, not the nose of the board, that crosses the line first. Marge’s technique at the finish¿leaning back and thrusting her board and body forward¿paid off and kept Poetzl at bay. Had the course been even a foot longer, the results would have been different.
From Snowmass, some riders will be headed to the X-Games in Vermont, but those who are in contention for the ISF and/or Swatch titles are on their way to Garmisch, Germany for the next leg of the tour.
The Swatch Boardercross World Tour will air on Fox Sportsnet’s Boardwwild and USA Network, as well as Sportsnet and OLN in Canada. The next stop will take place at Mountain High Resort, CA, February 17-19, 2000.