Aspen’s Klug `just perfect’ in World Cup boarding
Aspen’s Chris Klug took a giant step yesterday in his remarkable comeback by winning a World Cup parallel giant slalom in Kronplatz, Italy.
Klug, 28, underwent liver transplant surgery in July and bounced back to the World Cup circuit before even missing a start, though until yesterday his best World Cup finish had been sixth.
The victory in parallel giant slalom – one of the two Olympic disciplines for snowboarding – comes just days before Klug travels to Madonna di Campiglio, Italy, for the FIS World Snowboard Championships.
“This was perfect timing for me going into the World Championships,” said Klug. “I’ve been riding pretty good parallel all season. I just haven’t sorted it out strong enough mentally to make it further on so far and that’s the key to this event.
“It’s pretty hard to win because you have to make nine runs in total, and eight of them in the finals need to be really aggressive,” he continued. “That was my goal today: eight consistent runs, which was hard work but I’m stoked. It was just perfect.”
Klug, who enjoys riding motocross bikes in the off-season, won a Ducati Monster Dark motorcycle for his first-place finish.
“Someone else needs to ride it now since I’m too tired,” he joked.
In the finals against Gilles Jaquet of Switzerland, Jaquet overtook Klug in the first run. But in the second and final run with first place on the line, Klug attacked the Pr des Pres course and claimed victory.
“I was happy when I made it to the finals since you don’t expect that automatically with bib number 51, but the course stayed pretty good and it was a nice one,” said Jaquet.
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Had Hailey Swirbul decided against going to Europe, she would not have finished with a career-best result in Friday’s World Cup opener. Yes, there was a time, and not long ago, when the U.S. ski team member and Roaring Fork Valley native questioned her desire to put on a race bib.