Klug deserves spot in Olympics | AspenTimes.com

Klug deserves spot in Olympics

It looks from here like the U.S. Olympic Committee was having a hot-and-cold day this weekend when it announced which snowboarders will travel next month to Turin, Italy, to represent the United States in the Winter Olympic Games.The committee picked Aspen’s Gretchen Bleiler and Basalt’s Jason Smith to compete in the halfpipe and boardercross, respectively. Congratulations to both.Unfortunately, two-time Olympian and bronze medalist Chris Klug was missing from the list. The only men’s alpine snowboarder is Tyler Jewell of Sudbury, Mass. No doubt Jewell is a capable representative for the United States. He has been running neck and neck with Klug in World Cup competition this year, in some measures trailing and others leading. This season Klug’s top two World Cup finishes were 15th and 16th, while Jewell’s two best finishes are ninth and 24th. As of Tuesday, the International Ski Federation ranked Klug 15th-best in the world and Jewell 18th. In overall World Cup standings for the 2005-06 season, Jewell is running in 30th place and Klug 31st.By selecting only three athletes – Jewell, and female competitors Rosey Fletcher and Michelle Gorgone – to race in the alpine snowboard competition, the Olympic committee appears to be positioning the United States for possible sweeps in two other snowboard competitions – boardercross and halfpipe. It’s obvious the decision wasn’t easy for the committee members, but to exclude an athlete who has shown a consistent ability to perform at the Olympics – with a sixth-place showing in 1998 and a bronze medal 2002 – defies common sense. Klug has shown his moxie when it matters.The Olympic committee should give Klug’s appeal of its decision a fair hearing Thursday in Denver. The case for Klug is compelling: He’s been racing better as the season has progressed. He’s got a proven track record. He’s shown dedication to the team and the sport.And, most of all, as his bronze medal in 2002 reminds us, he can ramp it up when it matters most.

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