COPPER, Colo. (Nov. 20) — A 6:30 a.m. start may have slowed some, but not Olympic bronze medalist Chris Klug (Aspen, CO) or U.S. team youngster Michelle Gorgone (Sudbury, MA), who outlasted an international field of 90 riders to win the first Continental Cup parallel giant slalom of the season.

Finishing second for the men was Olympic silver medalist Richard Rikardsson of Sweden ahead of Landgraaf winner Adam Smith (Tangent, OR), while Aprilia Hagglof of Sweden and Lisa Kosglow (Boulder, CO) went 2-3 for the women.

“It wasn’t the first time I’ve rode up the lift in the dark and I’m sure it won’t be the last,” said Klug, who suffered 20 stitches to his chin after tumbling over the start gates in Soelden. “It was a full starry morning, which gave way to sunshine and epic snow conditions. The wind could have toned it down a bit, but I’m just happy to put a win up there after a slow start to the season.”

“The Swedes helped raise the bar a bit and to race the Olympic silver medalist in the final and win was huge, but what’s really great is all the young riders out here — there’s kids from the East coast, the West coast and everything in between. Alpine racing is gaining some steam again in the U.S. and it’s awesome to see that.”

For 21-year-old Gorgone, it was the first major win of her career, a title she’s particularly proud of because of the tough international field that included the Swedes, who had been training with the U.S. team all week and nearly the entire Canadian national team.

“The field was pretty stocked at the top, that’s for sure,” said Gorgone. “We slipped the course in the dark this morning and that was a bit brutal, especially since the elevation is more than what I’m used to, but I’m really excited to get the win and hopefully it will give me some momentum as I move back onto the World Cup.”

Head coach Nick Smith agreed. “Michelle rode great, she had enough in her tank to beat some of the best in the world and I’m glad she realized that. She knows now that she can do it, she showed it to herself today and that’s more of a confidence builder than anything I can tell her.”

Smith also thanked the staff of Copper Mountain for assisting in making the event possible. “Of the three runs open here, we’re taking up one of them and the snow has been excellent all week — Copper really pulled some strings for us and came through huge. Everybody is in good spirits and riding strong and I look for that to continue after Thanksgiving.”

The Continental Cup continues Friday with another 6:30 a.m. start to a parallel slalom. The U.S. team will then have a week off before the World Cup starts up again in Tandadalen, Sweden.

Continental Cup
Copper, Colo. — Nov. 20

Men’s PGS Final
1. Chris Klug, Aspen, CO
2. Richard Rikardsson, Sweden
3. Adam Smith, Tangent, OR

Women’s PGS Final
1. Michelle Gorgone, Sudbury, MA
2. Aprilia Hagglof, Sweden
3. Lisa Kosglow, Boulder, CO