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Aspen teen makes the X Games cut

Tim Mutrie

Aspen High sophomore Jordie Karlinski is going to the big dance, the ESPN Winter X Games.

The 15-year-old snowboarder sealed her place in Winter X Nine, slated for Jan. 28-Feb. 1 at Buttermilk Mountain, with a dramatic, come-from-behind photo-finish victory in an X Qualifier boardercross race Sunday at Sugar Bowl Ski Resort near Truckee, Calif.

Karlinski, whose family lives in Snowmass Village, will be among the youngest competitors in the 264-athlete Winter X field. Boardercross racer Jamie Anderson, 14, and snowboard superpipe rider Elena Hight, 15, are the only other too-young-to-drive athletes expected to compete, X Games officials said yesterday.

“I really wanted to be there, it was a goal of mine and I thought I could do it, but you never know what’s going to happen in boardercross,” said Karlinski, who races with the Aspen Valley Ski and Snowboard Club (AVSC).

“Now, I’m just so excited about it.”

Karlinski rode with savvy beyond her years, overcoming crashes in both her semifinal and final heats. All 15 riders in the women’s field were competing for the same thing, the one and only X Games berth bestowed upon the victor, and Karlinski snatched it.

“She wanted it bad. I mean, she came from fourth place in the finals to win it. It was sick,” said AVSC coach Travis McLain, who accompanied Karlinski on the trip to Donner Pass.

Karlinski advanced to the eight-rider semifinals, staged in two heats of four, by laying down the third-fastest run in a time trial on the course Friday.

In the semis, with the top two finishers advancing to the four-rider finals, Karlinski crashed into another rider who had fallen in her path early on.

“I got up and basically pointed it to try and make up for lost time. And I passed [the second-place rider] on this straightaway with rollers, so I advanced,” she said.

In the finals, Karlinski got out of the starting gate first – winning the so-called “hole shot.”

“Then I fell again,” she said. “I just skidded out and fell.”

The bobble dropped Karlinski back into fourth and last place.

She managed to catch the third-place rider by pumping through a set of rollers, but the two leaders remained to be hunted down.

“It was only one spot up for grabs and people were just charging, not giving anything up,” said McLain. “But Jordie really charged. There’s a big, big step down gap [jump], and a bunch of double jumps and then a huge left-hand hip jump; and that’s where she passed the two lead girls. She took a real aggressive inside line that was more air, and more direct, and just barely passed ’em.”

“It was real close – like 6 inches in front of second place, like a photo finish.”

The finish was so close, in fact, that the decision went to the two finish referees. Both agreed Karlinski was the winner, McLain said. (Had the refs disagreed, McLain noted, officials would have consulted a finish video.)

“The week before we were at Mt. Bachelor and she was, you know, just warming up. She did really well there, 11th or 12th, and she qualified to go to some World Cups. But you could tell she was just warming up, building up,” said McLain, a former X Games gold medalist (ultracross in 2000). “And she went down to Lake Tahoe with a lot more confidence. She wanted it bad to go to X Games, she definitely wanted it badder than those three other girls in the finals.

“So her head’s in it and you can see it in her riding. Now, she really wants to do well in front of her home crowd. She’s definitely one to watch.”

Several other valley skiers and snowboarders competed in the Sugar Bowl X Qualifiers, which included women’s and men’s boardercross and skiercross races.

In men’s boardercross, Snowmass local Christian Mosiman just missed clinching an X Games berth with a third-place finish. While only the top two qualified for the X Games, Mosiman is now the first alternate. Ross Truelove and Riley Gessely, fellow Snowmass locals, went out in semifinal heats, according to McLain.

In the men’s skiercross, Aspenites Ted Davenport and Kiffor Berg were eliminated in the semis and quarters, respectively, according to McLain.

Tim Mutrie’s e-mail is mutrie@aspentimes.com


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