VALLE NEVADO, Chile (Sept. 15) – A 24-hour weather delay did little to slow U.S. alpine riders Sunday as ’02 Olympic bronze medalist Chris Klug (Aspen, CO) and two-time Olympian Lisa Kosglow (Boulder, CO) cruised to third place in the opening parallel giant slalom of the World Cup season.
After weather forced a one-day postponement in the PGS schedule at Valle Nevado resort, Austrian Lukas Gruener grabbed top honors for the men while retired Canadian racer and two-time Olympian Mark Fawcett, who in South America doing some filming, came out of retirement and surprised everyone by finishing second. On the women’s side, Nicolien Sauerbreij of the Netherlands with the victory followed by Swiss rider Ursula Bruhin in the No. 2 spot.
In the so-called small finals, Klug edged Sweden’s Daniel Biveson for third place while Kosglow defeated Heidi Krings of Austria in the women’s PGS.
“Everything went great today,” said U.S. head coach Peter Foley. “Today was a complete 180 from (Saturday’s) 60 mile-an-hour winds, and it’s great to see two podiums in the first PGS event, especially following the three we had (Friday) in halfpipe.”
Klug, who is classically known for being afraid of sickness in South America, had no trouble shaking off his fears as he met U.S. rider Ryan McDonald (Entiat, WA) in the first round of the finals (16 moved through from qualifying) and knocked him off en route to his podium. McDonald ended the day 15th, bettering his 26th in Chile from a year ago.
“It was unfortunate that Chris and Ryan had to race each other, but that’s the way the cards fall sometimes,” said Foley. “Everybody was ready to race yesterday and the all came out today, just as prepared. It’s definitely a good way to start the season.”
All four U.S. women made the top-15 with Sondra Van Ert (Ketchum, ID) leading the way behind Kosglow with a seventh place result followed by Stacia Hookom (Edwards, CO) in 12th and Michelle Gorgone (Sudbury, MA) 15th.
“Lisa has been riding great all week,” added Foley, “and it’s not surprising to me for her to be up there today. The team travels well down here and we didn’t really expect that much out of today’s event, so to come away with two podiums is great.”
The surprise of the day came from Fawcett, who was down in Chile to do a kite-boarding film when Canadian No. 1 Jasey Jay Anderson was scratched because of a head injury he suffered during Thursday’s SBX race. Anderson handed all his gear to Fawcett, who stepped in without any troubles for a second-place finish despite not racing PGS since the end of last season.
The U.S. team will remain in Chile for a few days to get more time on snow before heading home to prepare for the next round of World Cup action in Europe; the men have a big air event Oct. 27 in Berlin and a snowboardcross on the 29th in Soelden, Austria, while the women are in Soelden Oct. 29-30 for SBX and parallel GS.
FIS SNOWBOARD WORLD CUP
Valle Nevado, CHI – Sept. 14
Parallel Giant Slalom (4 make semifinals)
1. Lukas Gruener, Austria
2. Mark Fawcett, Canada
3. Chris Klug, Aspen, CO
4. Daniel Biveson, Sweden
6. Ryan McDonald, Entiat, WA
22. Peter Thorndike, Meredith, NH
25. Jeff Greenwood, Boulder, CO
33. Tyler Jewell, Sudbury, MA
36. Ben Fairchild, Kirkland, WA
1. Nicolien Sauerbreij, Netherlands
2. Ursula Bruhin, Austria
3. Lisa Kosglow, Boulder, CO
4. Heidi Krings, Austria
7. Sondra Van Ert, Ketchum, ID
12. Stacia Hookom, Edwards, CO
15. Michelle Gorgone, Sudbury, MA