BRECKENRIDGE, Colo. (March 20) — Olympic bronze medalist Chris Klug (Aspen, CO) and U.S. Snowboarding young gun Michelle Gorgone (Sudbury, VT) gained more than a tan Saturday as the two wrapped up the ’04 season with parallel giant slalom wins at the U.S. Snowboarding Alpine Finals under sixty degree temps and beaming sun.

“It was more like wake boarding than snowboarding, said Klug, who finished up the season with a string of solid finishes including a third at the World Cup Finals. “It was spring firm and a little inconsistent, which made it challenging, but it was fun. I’m just really stoked to have finished the season riding so strong and part of me wishes that the season was couple of months longer, but I’ll carry this momentum into next year.

The last of the NorAm series drew 48 men and 27 women to Breckenridge for PGS on the aptly named Sundown run. Rounding out the men’s podium was military man Ryan MacDonald (Entiat, WA), who is a member of the U.S. Army as well as the U.S. Snowboard team, followed by Canadian rider Justin-Claude Dumont. On the women’s side, ’03 U.S. Snowboard Grand Prix champ Stacia Hookom (Edwards, CO) and U.S. Snowboarding veteran Lynn Ott (Bend, OR) finished 2-3.

“It was like sitting on the beach and that’s why I love the U.S. finals so much, said U.S. Snowboarding alpine head coach Nick Smith. “I was telling both Klug and Gorgone the other day that they needed to bookend the season with the NorAms and they did just that, winning both the opening event in Copper Mountain and the event today.

In only her second full season on the World Cup tour, Gorgone had the single most successful season on the U.S. team garnering five top-five finishes, including her first podium at the Whistler PGS with a third just before Christmas. As Smith explains, it’s only the beginning.

“She has learned so much this year that I simply want her to kick back and digest this season — the girl is like a sponge and it’s because of the other riders on the team that she’s so good. She’s been riding with and watching girls like Hookom and Fletcher and that has picked her up and they will continue to keep her moving. She’s like their little sister and they pick on her, but it just seems to make her stronger, said Smith.

The U.S. Snowboarding Alpine Finals conclude Sunday with slalom and according to U.S. riders, the most coveted title on the national circuit.

“Nobody has ever won the slalom title two years in a row and there really is only this one shot, explained Klug. “It’s the title we look forward to all season.

U.S. SNOWBOARDING ALPINE FINALS
Breckenridge, Colo. — March 20
Men’s Parallel Giant Slalom
1. Chris Klug, Aspen, Colo.
2. Ryan McDonald, Entiat, Wash.
3. Justin-Claude Dumont, Canada
4. Phillippe Berube, Canada
5. Adam Smith, Tangent, Ore.

Women’s Parallel Giant Slalom
1. Michelle Gorgone, Sudbury, Mass.
2. Stacia Hookom, Edwards, Colo.
3. Lynn Ott, Bend, Ore.
4. Sondra Van Ert, Olympia, Wash.
5. Constance Boisvert, Canada