SUNDAY RIVER, Maine (March 17) – Maine already boasts its share oftrucks on the road, but there will be two more added to the fleet as theX Nix U.S. Snowboard Championships truck into Sunday River March 21-26.
Not only will national champions be crowned in slalom, parallel giantslalom, superpipe and snowboardcross, but two riders will take home newtrucks as the event doubles as the Chevy Truck U.S. Snowboard Grand PrixFinals.
The event opens Wednesday, March 21 with a snowboardcross that was notfound on the original schedule. Itwas moved to the Sunday River stop after the Grand Prix snowboardcrossat Mammoth Mountain, Calif. onFeb. 10 was canceled due to heavy snowfall. It will serve as the firstsnowboardcross of the Grand Prix seasonand will also be part of the International Snowboard Federation’s (ISF)World Series.
Riders will compete in time trials on the course Wednesday and hope toqualify for Thursday’s finals.Competitors that were slated to ride at Mammoth will automatically beentered at Sunday River. The event willnot be the national snowboardcross championship, but will award GrandPrix points.
Thursday will be a busy day as the hardbooters begin action with men’sand women’s slalom races. Parallelgiant slalom, one of two 2002 Olympic disciplines, will follow Friday.As usual, the best North American ridersare expected to compete, fresh off International Ski Federation (FIS)World Cup Finals in Ruka, Finland.
Last season at Okemo Mt., Vermont, Anton Pogue (Hood River, OR) andRosey Fletcher (Girdwood, AK) wonthe U.S. slalom championship, while Chris Klug (Aspen, CO) and SondraVan Ert (Ketchum, ID) were tabbedthe U.S. champions in the giant slalom.
Entering the Sunday River alpine events, Canadian Jasey Jay Andersonleads the Grand Prix alpine standings.He won a parallel giant slalom and took second in a giant slalom alreadythis season. For the women, StaciaHookom (Edwards, CO) is on top after winning a parallel GS and finishingfifth in a giant slalom. However, VanErt is right on her tail, just 50 points shy of Hookom.
Saturday brings about the superpipe event and the field is sure to bestacked as riders will come to SundayRiver from the U.S. Open at Stratton Mt., Vermont, held the previousweekend. Among the competitors will bereigning U.S. halfpipe champions Adam Petraska (Andover, VT) and KimStacey (Stratton Mt., VT).
As far as the Grand Prix pipe standings go, 18 year-old ripper DannyKass (Hamburg, NJ) leads the pack afterwinning superpipe contests at Okemo Mt. and Breckenridge. Kass, who tookthe gold at this season’s XGames, has been going huge all winter and pulled what could be thebiggest air-to-fakie ever at Breckenridge.Kass is not quite the odds-on favorite as ’98 Olympic bronze medalistRoss Powers (S. Londonderry, VT) hasturned it on as of late and is just 200 points behind Kass. Powers wonthe most recent Grand Prix at Mammothand was second at Okemo Mt.
For the women, veteran Tricia Byrnes (Stratton Mt., VT) has a solid leadas she won at Okemo Mt. andMammoth and was second at Breckenridge. She’ll face stiff competition inMaine, most notably from U.S.teammates Kelly Clark (Mt. Snow, VT) and Gretchen Bleiler (SnowmassVillage, CO).
The U.S. snowboardcross championship event is Sunday. Last year’s winnerSeth Wescott (Farmington, ME)will miss the event after recent knee surgery, so a new champion will becrowned.
So now that you know the basics, let’s talk about the trucks. Theoverall Grand Prix winners, both men andwomen, will drive away from Sunday River with a boss new Chevy.Currently, Kass leads the overall men’sstandings with 2,500 points and Powers is second with 2,300.
It’s not a two-man race, however, as Canadian Anderson, last year’soverall winner, is third with 1,800 points.Anderson holds the trump card as he has proven to be an all-aroundrider. At last season’s Grand Prix Finals,he needed to finish second in the snowboardcross to win the title and hedid just that. Primarily an alpine raccer,Anderson can also ride the pipe if need be.
Byrnes appears to be the favorite for the women’s Grand Prix title with2,800 points. Clark is second with 2,000and Bleiler is third with 1,750. The closest alpine competitor is Hookomwith 1,450 points but she has two racesto collect important points.
The Sunday River extravaganza concludes Monday with a second superpipecontest. It will have no bearing onthe Grand Prix standings, but riders will compete for important FISpoints that could earn their country Olympicquota spots.
X Nix U.S. Snowboard Championships/Chevy Truck U.S. Snowboard Grand PrixFinalsSchedule of Events (all times EST)
Wednesday, March 2110:00 a.m., snowboardcross time trials
Thursday, March 229:00 a.m., slalom1:30 p.m., snowboardcross finals
Friday, March 239:30 a.m., parallel giant slalom qualifiers12:30 p.m., parallel giant slalom finals
Saturday, March 249:00 a.m., men’s superpipe qualifiers1:30 p.m., women’s superpipe qualifiers7:00 p.m., superpipe finals
Sunday, March 259:00 a.m., snowboardcross time trials12:30 p.m., snowboardcross finals
Monday, March 269:00 a.m., superpipe qualifiers1:45 p.m., superpipe finals