Snowboarders experience Pre-Olympic Foretaste

Park City/Utah (USA). Having concluded the stage on the slopes of the first-ever appearance of snowboarding at the 1998 Nagano Olympic Games only last week, the NOKIA Snowboard FIS World Cup returns to Park City/Utah (USA), the official snowboarding venue for the 2002 Winter Olympics. Top riders from around the world will converge on Park City Mountain Resort to participate in Snowboard Cross, Halfpipe and Giant Slalom from March 3 through 5.”The field of athletes assembled for this year’s event is top notch,” said Karen Korfanta, ‘Countdown to Gold’ organizing committee chairperson. “Many of the athletes participating this upcoming weekend will be those to watch in 2002.”

The “Countdown to Gold” kicks off on Friday, March 3, with the Snowboard Cross. Pontus Stahlkloo from Sweden currently has the lead in the SBX World Cup standings ahead of “Aussi” Zeke Steggall who badly crashed in the training for Giant Slalom earlier this week but seems to getting better now. Swiss rider Guillaume Nantermod, representing the Nokia World Team, takes third place so far.Marie Laissus from France is leading the womens’ standings ahead of Italy’s Carmen Ranigler and Sandra Farmand from Germany.

The Halfpipe is scheduled for Saturday, March 4. The Swedes Thomas Johansson and Fredrik Sterner taking first and second place in the mens’ standings ahead of Nokia rider Pasi Voho from Finnland. Zach Horwitz, being ranked fourth so far, 1999 Halfpipe World Champion and Park City native Ricky Bower in ninth position and Tommy Czechin in tenth place represent the US team among the top ten.Germany’ Sabine Wehr-Hasler, member of the Nokia World Team, is currently wearing the yellow World Cup leader bib in the women’s ranking, just 120 points ahead of Anna Hellman from Sweden and defending Halfpipe World Cup Champion and Nokia team rider Tricia Byrnes from the USA, who had won last year’s Park City Halfpipe contest.

The “Countdown to Gold” will be concluded with the season’s seventh Giant Slalom on Sunday, March 5. Defending GS World Cup champion Stefan Kaltschütz from Austria is leading the mens’ standings, chased by Nokia team member Matthieu Bozzetto from France who’s major goal is to claim the overall chrystal globe for the second time in a row. Canadian Jasey Jay Anderson takes third so far ahead of US rider Christopher J. Klug.Last year’s Park City winner and defending GS World Cup Champion Margherita Parini from Italy just claimed the lead in the women’s World Cup last week in Japan ahead of Manuela Riegler (Nokia/AUT) and Sweden’s Aasa Windahl. The US riders are represented among the top ten with Sondra van Ert in fourth and Rosey Fletcher in sixth place.

While the Olympic Halfpipe is not in place yet, the GS riders for the second time after last year try “CB’s run” for the 2002 Olympic Parallel Giant Slalom.