Aspen’s Klug eighth in Quebec; Olympic berth is likely
The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO Colorado
ASPEN – Aspen snowboarder Chris Klug is closing in on a third trip to the Winter Olympics.
The 37-year-old finished eighth in Sunday’s World Cup parallel giant slalom outside Quebec City – his second top 10 in five Olympic qualifiers – to position himself as the U.S.’s No. 2 snowboarder.
United States Ski and Snowboard Association selection criteria stipulates that up to two male and two female alpine snowboarders can make the Olympic team. Massachusetts native Tyler Jewell secured his spot with his fourth-place finish at Jan. 6’s World Cup qualifier in Kreischberg, Austria.
“I believe we’re in, as I understand it. I’m really excited,” Klug said Sunday afternoon. “[Today] is the official announcement, so I’ll wait for that.”
Klug, who took fifth in Kreischberg, came into Sunday’s race determined to put a disappointing finish in Jan. 17’s qualifier behind him. Klug was third after the first qualifying run in Nendaz, Switzerland, but “rode a little cautious and shot myself in the foot” during the second, winding up 17th.
Only 16 riders advance to head-to-head knockout finals.
“I kind of blew it,” Klug admitted.
He qualified in eighth Sunday at Stoneham Mountain Resort, and, with a berth in the quarterfinals on the line, he squared off with World Cup points leader Benjamin Karl of Austria. Klug, who trailed by half a second after the first of two runs, took some risks in an attempt to close the gap.
It wound up costing him.
“I actually made up time on the top six or eight gates,” Klug said. “I was pretty close on the pitch, but locked into a heel-side turn and railed out of the course. … right out of the course and into a fence. If he beat me, I was going to go down swinging.”
Karl topped fellow Austrian Andreas Prommegger to seal the win. Canada’s Jasey Jay Anderson rounded out the podium.
Americans Vic Wild and Jewell finished 16th and 23rd, respectively.
“This is a real challenging hill for me. I’ve struggled here, but I believed in myself and tried to ride real aggressively,” Klug said. “I’m really happy. This says a lot about my riding right now. … Eighth is a step in the right direction.”
And, likely, one step closer to Vancouver. Klug was a U.S. Olympian in 1998 in Japan and in 2002, when he finished third in parallel giant slalom at the Salt Lake Games mere months after receiving a liver transplant.
“It’s huge,” Klug said. “To be 37 years old and make my third Olympic team, with some of the challenges and things I’ve overcome, that’s certainly a lot to be proud of.”
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