USA'S GRAHAM WATANABE WINS SBX WORLD CUP
by Paul Maraschiello
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Sunday River hosted the 2009 Visa U.S. Snowboarding World Cup to the delight of the spectators, skiers and snowboarders who were there for the three-day competition. They were able to squeeze the qualifying runs and finals of the snowboard cross in on Saturday after they had been canceled on Friday due to dense fog. It was a very exciting event. The mens field was narrowed from 55 competitors to 32 in the preliminaries. Then in the finals, the four winners and runners-up of each of the eight heats met in quarter finals. Eight racers met in two heats for the semi-finals and then the two winners and two runners-up of those heats battled it out in the final race. As the field was narrowed down, there were plenty of spills and the lead changed several times in almost every race. There is no intentional body contact in snowboard cross but there was plenty of unintentional body contact. People crashed into the nets and the outcome of every race was in doubt until the racers finally crossed the finish line. Riders hit the jumps and flew into the air in their race to the finish line. They navigated burms and hit a big jump right before the finish line.
On the podium for the men, USA's Graham Watanabe (Sun Valley, ID) was the winner with Lukas Gruener (Austria) in 2nd place and 2002 Olympic gold medalist, Ross Powers (Londonderry, VT) aced out Robert Fagan (Canada) for 3rd place. Robert Fagan (Canada) was 4th. Watanabe was able to capitalize on the early collision of his three rivals in the top part of the course. He was not aware of the crash, he just went for it and it paid off.
On the podium for the women, it was Canadian, Maelle Ricker who placed 1st, Helene Olafsen (Norway) was 2nd, Mellie Francon (Switzerland) was 3rd and USA's Lindsey Jacobellis (Stratton Mountain, VT) placed 4th. Ricker had a tough fight in every heat but she prevailed in her first season's victory and closed the gap for the championship with Lindsey Jacobellis who still leads by 1,450 points.
There was a nice crowd of spectators at the finish line and various vantage points along
the course. One beautiful woman on snowshoes hiked up the course with her dog to
where I was shooting the race for a better view. Groups of people were perched on a hill
next to a big jump and others were at other jumps. There was also a large screen TV so
the fans at the bottom could view the entire race. They started the Paul Mitchell Team
SBX but due to problems with the start gates that event was canceled.
If you missed the action at Sunday River, NBC will be broadcasting the event March 7 at
2:00 p.m. ET and Versus will re-air it at 5:00 p.m. ET the same day.
I took a few runs while waiting for the men's and women's snowboardcross qualifications to start on Friday but after a couple of competitors came down the course, the qualifications were suspended and eventually canceled because of the fog. I waited around in the VIP Tent to see if the fog would lift and enjoyed the lunch that they provided. My hat is off to the Sunday River. The food was impressive. They had an Italian menu with lasagna, penna and cannoli served by a local ski bum that really appealed to my Italian side. Saturday I enjoyed sliced boast beef, Cesar salad and an obscene piece of chocolate cake that had milk chocolate frosting and must have contained a million calories!
Parallel Giant Slalom
For the men, it was Benjamin Karl of Austria who took 1st place with team mate Siegfried Grabner in 2nd and Jasey Jay Anderson from Canada in 3rd. For the women, it was Amelie Kober of Germany who took the gold with Tomoka Takeuchi from Japan in 2nd place and Canadian Alexa Loo placing 3rd.
Meet the Team
In the evening, after the SBX race, members of U.S. SBX team were on hand in the Foggy Goggle to sign autographs and meet their fans. Linsey Jacobellis was nice enough to pose for photos with one of her fans. There was also an awards ceremony where checks were handed out. Ross Powers was honored and Watanabe was awarded the coveted green champion's jacket as a sign of regaining the national championship. With her win from Boreal and 4th place finish at Sunday River, Jacobellis also came away with the national title. Some of the Japanese Team members were also there, enjoying the party atmosphere.
I stayed in the bunkhouse at the Chapman Inn. In the morning, I enjoyed the sumptuous complementary breakfast that they serve to their guests in the diningroom. The bunkroom is a comfortable dorm/bunkhouse for folks interested in an inexpensive place to stay. It was clean and comfortable and the guests are provided with linens, towels, and showers. There is also a full kitchen and microwave where you are welcome to prepare your own meals, and a game room, TV room with color cable and a VCR. For $35 per night, you can't beat the price. They also have nine rooms in the main part of the inn that range from $59-$119 and a suite that goes for $89-$139. The Chapman is located in the heart of Bethel. For reservations call (877) 359-1498 and tell them that the Ski Bum News sent you.