Rosie Fletcher Wins Olympic Qualifier

CARRABASSETT VALLEY, Maine (AP) – Snowboarder Rosey Fletcher of Girdwood, Alaska, who brought her mother for good luck, took control on the first run Thursday and held off world champion Sondra Van Ert of Ketchum, Idaho, to win the first Olympic qualifying race, a giant slalom, by more than a full second.

Canadian Mark Fawcett, who started the snowboard program at Carrabassett Valley Academy, located at the foot of Sugarloaf, during the 1989-90 season, won the men’s GS by more than two seconds on the opening day of the $225,000 Bud Light U.S. Snowboard Grand Prix. Chris Klug of Aspen, Colo., was second.

Fawcett, noting “This is really my home mountain,” was timed in 2:10.58 with Klug runnerup in 2:12.95. Dutch rider Theo Remmelink finished third.

In the women’s GS, Fletcher had a two-run time of 2 minutes, 25.80 seconds to collect $10,000 and move a step closer to making the first U.S. Olympic Snowboard Team as her sport makes its Olympic debut in Nagano, Japan, in February. Van Ert, seventh in the first run, rode more aggressively during her second run and moved into second with a total time of 2:27.36.

Rounding out the top five were Betsy Shaw of East Dorset, Vt., third in 2:27.83, followed by Lisa Kosglow of Boise, Idaho and Malgorzata Roslak of Poland.

“I brought my mom over here to watch me race because she’s sort of a good-luck charm for me,” said Fletcher, who has earmarked part of her winner’s check to cover the plane fare from Alaska.

“Usually, I like to be second or third and then have a really good second run. But this time I really relaxed and I wasn’t that nervous. I just charged it,” she said. “It was a real hairball run, on the edge and not very pretty, but I wasn’t worried about style, and it worked just fine.”

Rob Roy, coach of Burton’s U.S. Pro Team, which includes Fletcher and Klug, said, “That’s Rosey. She has a great ability to put all distractons aside and focus on her racing.”

Van Ert, a former U.S. Ski Team racer who won the GS gold medal in the 1997 World Championships, said she approached her first run “kind of like college, where everyone has to finish. So I wanted to make sure I got down, and then I let it rip a little on the second run.

“These conditions were so great. After competing on glaciers in Europe, it’s such fun to race on this kind of snow. Sugarloaf did a great job preparing the course.”

A rider’s two best results in the three Grand Prix events will determine members of the inaugural Olympic Team for giant slalom and halfpipe. Additional Grand Prix events will be held at Mount Bachelor, Ore., and Mammoth Mountain, Calif., with the team named Jan. 31 at Mammoth.