PARK CITY, Utah (Dec. 17) — The strongest international field in Grand Prix history resulted in European dominance as the Chevy Truck U.S. Snowboard Grand Prix opened in Park City. Swiss Urs Eiselin won the men's parllel giant slalom, with Japan's Tomoka Takeuchi taking the women's title.
Current World Cup leader Siegfried Grabner of Austria finished second ahead of Gilles Jaquet of Switzerland. Italian Isabella Dal Balcon was second for the women, ahead of current points leader Daniela Meuli of Switzerland, who has hit every podium since mid October in Soelden. Top Americans riders were Rosey Fletcher (Girdwood, AK) with sixth and Adam Smith (Tangent, OR) in eighth. The event will air Dec. 27 at 3:00 ET on NBC.
Currently sitting fifth in the World Cup standings, the Grand Prix marks the second time Eiselin had raced in Park City after testing the Olympic mountain in 2001 for the pre Olympic World Cup.
"This is really a great event," said Eiselin, who will take home $10,000. "It's really difficult to ride here because it's really steep and icy — it's the same level of racing as in Europe, but much better organized, maybe better organized than a World Cup. We decided to com because we were in Whistler and we had some time, plus there was a lot of prize money in this race. I hope to return to this event next year."
For Takeuchi, the win serves as retribution after she missed a gate during the 2001 World Cup and was unable to qualify for the Olympics. She was also unaware that there was prize money involved in the event and said she would use the money to pay her hotel expense and also send some to her parents.
"I'm siked that the event was scheduled this way so the Euro's could make it," said U.S. Head Alpine Coach Nick Smith. "This was the best Grand Prix I've ever seen and from a sport perspective, it was a great day. As a team, we didn't ride great — Adam had a rough day and Rosey had some serious bright spots, but it didn't fall for them."
Fletcher was knocked out by Meuli, but had nothing but praise for the international riders in an event that is traditionally dominated by American starters. The stacked international field included not only the men's and women's World Cup leaders, but twelve of the top-15 riders in the men's field were 2002 Olympians.
"Coming to Park City is always a blast because the hill is difficult and we had a lot of really good riders here today," said Fletcher who is still recovering from missing the first few World Cup races due to meningitis. "It's great for Park City, and it's great for the junior riders to see elite athletes competing at the same events as them — I think everybody benefits."
The U.S. alpine team exits Park City for Stoneham, Quebec and a one PGS race before taking a break for the Christmas holiday, but the Grand Prix continues Thursday with men's and women's halfpipe qualifiers.
Dec. 18 — Superpipe Qualifications 8:30 a.m. MT
Dec. 19 — STAIND Concert 6:00 p.m. MT, Superpipe Finals 7:15 p.m. MT
Dec. 20 — Junior Jam 10:45 a.m. MT, Exhibition 12:00 p.m. MT
CHEVY TRUCK U.S. SNOWBOARD GRAND PRIX
Park City, Utah — Dec. 17
Men's Parallel Giant Slalom
1. Urs Eiselin, Switzerland
2. Siegfried Grabner, Austria
3. Gilles Jaquet, Switzerland
4. Andre Prommegger, Austria
5. Heinz Inniger, Switzerland
Women's Parallel Giant Slalom
1. Tomoka Takeuchi, Japan
2. Isabe Dal Balcon, Italy
3. Daniela Meuli, Switzerland
4. Rebek Von Kaenel, Switzerland
5. Ursula Bruhin, Switzerland
6. Rosey Fletcher, Girdwood, Alaska