NIIGATA JOETSU-KOKUSAI, Japan (Feb. 26) — Lindsey Jacobellis (Bondville, VT) continued her snowboard cross dominance Thursday winning the first of two races from Japan, while teammates Seth Wescott (Farmington, ME) and Nate Holland (Olympic Valley, CA) finished 2-3 for the men. It was only the second career World Cup start for Jacobellis, who has won every SBX she’s entered on the season including a decisive victory at the Chevrolet U.S. Snowboard Grand Prix in Mammoth Mountain, Calif, and the X Games.

“It’s kind of crazy now because people are asking me ‘so you’ve only done two World Cup races and you’ve won them both,’ I don’t really know how to answer that, said the Stratton Mountain School grad, who has a World Junior Championship in both SBX and halfpipe. “I feel great and I’m so excited to race again tomorrow because it’s going to be the same girls and it’s always fun to race against the best.

“Everyone rode amazing today, said U.S. Snowboarding Head Coach Peter Foley. “Seth and Nate both had heats where they had to make passes to advance to the next round – something that was next to impossible to do on this course, but somehow they got it done. And Lindsey was in second the entire length of the final, then made a pass at the very last turn to get the win. It’s awesome to have three on the podium in our first race here — SBX is such a low percentage event, that it’s huge for us to finish so well.

In Bad Gastein, Austria, where Jacobellis claimed her first win in Jan., the one to beat was supposed to be World Cup leader Karine Ruby of France. Yet when Ruby didn’t finish, Jacobellis cruised to the top of the podium. Then at X Games later that month, the Jacobellis/Ruby match-up was at the top of the bill, but when Jacobellis handed the three-time World Champion a near two second loss for her second consecutive X Games win, folks began to take notice.

Yet it was Ruby’s teammates who challenged Jacobellis in Thursday’s final as Julie Pomagalski and Marie Laissus landed 2-3 on the podium and now mirror that in the World Cup standings behind Ruby. With two wins in two races, Jacobellis sits in fifth, just 1460 points back from Ruby, who has five races under her belt.

“I’m not really concerned about the World Cup title, I’m just thinking about the 2006 Olympics and getting the most experience I can on these type of World Cup courses. – this is the type of course that will be in Turino and these are the riders that I’ll see at the games, added Jacobellis.

On the men’s side it was a repeat battle of the Mammoth Grand Prix as both Wescott and Holland were gunning for the win. Holland got the best of Wescott at the Grand Prix, but a mistake at the bottom of the course today sent Holland into a full front flip, causing Wescott to go down as well and allowing Canada’s Drew Neilson the uncontested win.

“Drew got a great start and led the whole way, said Foley. “Nate was is second at the last turn, but caught an edge and did a total flip and Wescott went down just to get out of the way, but Wescott was the faster of the two to get up.

Forty-degree weather and light rain provided for slick conditions, forcing riders to speed check many of the turns and jumps. But following the race, temperatures quickly cooled and a foot of fresh snow is expected to fall overnight, which will slow the course significantly for the second race. However the riders feel confident that U.S. Snowboarding and Swix wax tech Franklin Crowe will have their boards built for speed.

“It’s great to have Franklin out here with us, said Foley. “He’s the one dialing in our boards, the riders trust him and he definitely plays a part in getting the U.S. on the podium.

FIS SNOWBOARD WORLD CUP
Niigata Joetsu-Kokusai, JPN — Feb. 26
Women’s Snowboard Cross
1. Lindsey Jacobellis, Bondville, Vt.
2. Julie Pomagalski, France
3. Marie Laissus, France
4. Maelle Ricker, Canada
5. Karine Ruby, France

Men’s Snowboard Cross
1. Drew NNeilson, Canada
2. Seth Wescott, Farmington, Maine
3. Nate Holland, Olympic Valley, Calif.
4. Marco Huser, Switzerland
5. Xavier Delerue, France