After missing the event last season, U.S. Snowboard Team rider Seth Wescott (Kingfield, Maine) recaptured his snowboardcross crown as he won Thursday at the X-nix U.S. Snowboard Championships at Northstar at Tahoe, March 28, 2002. Lindsey Jacobellis (Stratton Mountain, Vt.) took the women s title.
Under blazing sun and temperatures around 60, Wescott cruised through each round for his first victory of the season. He was followed in the finals by local Nate Holland (Squaw Valley, Calif.), Mark Schulz (Welches, Ore.) and Paul Henderson (Temecula, Calif.).
Wescott, who won the U.S. snowboardcross championship in 2000, was forced to sit out the event last season after blowing out his right knee in February and undergoing surgery. He s come back strong this season with some solid recent results, including a fourth in a tight field at the Nippon Open in Japan.
For the women, Jacobellis finished the final run ahead of Joanie Anderson (South Lake Tahoe, Calif.), U.S. Snowboard Team member Sondra Van Ert (Ketchum, Idaho) and Australian Marguerite Cossettini.
The course was slated to be built by Ryan Neptune, but Neptune had to return home early due to a case of pneumonia. Earlier in the week, the course was fairly flat and needed work before becoming race-ready. Wescott actually had a hand in building the course with the Northstar crew and Jesse Bolling.
“I always look at boardercross and think it should be like motocross,” said Wescott. “In motocross, you’re probably in the air half the time, so we tried to add some of that to the course and step up the level of riding.”
The course featured several rollers, tabletops, berms, stepups and doubles and competitors seemed to hold their speed despite soft and sticky snow in the afternoon.
“It turned out fun,” said Wescott, who will also compete in halfpipe at Northstar. “With the soft snow, the berms were so big and it kind of reminded me of being in the banked slalom at Baker (Mt. Baker in Washington state).”
There have been a limited number of snowboardcross events this season, so riders have had to find other ways to practice.
“I’ve been freeriding and riding pipe a lot,” said Wescott. “If you’re a good pipe rider and a good freestyle rider, then you can come to these things and just rule it.”
The event was the start of a long few days for Van Ert, who will also compete in slalom and parallel giant slalom. She took third Thursday despite racing in just her second snowboardcross event of the year.
“The course was really good for me because the obstacles were really spaced out,” said Van Ert. “Usually, I wouldn’t do a boardercross before racing, but it’s the last event of the year and it’s just like, oh what the heck.”
“I have two rules in boardercross that I’ve always abided by,” said Van Ert. “That’s to have fun and don’t get hurt. I’ve got a smile and I’m in one piece.”
The X-nix U.S. Snowboard Championships continue Friday with halfpipe qualifying (8 a.m.) and slalom finals (10 a.m.).
X-NIX U.S. SNOWBOARD CHAMPIONSHIPS
March 28, 2002
Northstar at Tahoe
1. Seth Wescott, Kingfield, Maine
2. Nate Holland, Squaw Valley, Calif.
3. Mark Schulz, Welches, Ore.
4. Paul Henderson, Temecula, Calif.5. Drew Nielson, Canada
6. Brady Gunsch, USA
7. Stephen Myers, USA
8. Jason Smith, USA
9. Christian Mosiman, USA
10. Michael Williams, Australia
11. Clinton Wilton, Australia
12. Eric Warren, Bennington, Vt.
1. Lindsey Jacobellis, Stratton Mountain, Vt.
2. Joanie Anderson, South Lake Tahoe, Calif.
3. Sondra Van Ert, Ketchum, Idaho
4. Marguerite Cossettini, Australia
5. Wendy Chan, Canada
6. Kate Fletcher, Girdwood, Alaksa
7. Torah Bright, Australia
8. Jenny Karcsinski, USA
9. Tamara Novotney, USA
10. Abby Champagne, USA
11. Amy Sage, USA
12. Kelly Ryan, USA