Klug wins Vermont Grand Prix race
LUDLOW, VT. – Snowboard racer Chris Klug of Aspen backed up a third-place World Cup giant slalom finish Saturday by winning a Chevy Truck U.S. Snowboard Grand Prix yesterday in Vermont.
The race was originally scheduled to go off Sunday, but foul weather forced organizers to shift the event on Chief trail at Okemo Mountain Resort to Monday. Winds were still blowing Monday morning, and the first women’s racer didn’t get out of the start house until 11:30 a.m.
Klug won with a two-run time of 2 minutes, 4.71 seconds. Canadians took the next two spots with Jasey Jay Anderson in second (2:05.52) and Mark Fawcett in third (2:05.70).
Klug led by over a full second after his first run. He played it safe on his second run and let up a bit to guarantee a clean finish and the $10,000 check.
“I had a really solid first run – I put it up on edge really early,” Klug said. “That second run I wussed it a little bit. I probably could’ve gone a little faster. But it’s hard when you’ve got a good cushion and you don’t want to botch it.”
Klug has made a miraculous comeback after undergoing a liver transplant in late July. He was diagnosed with a rare liver disease more than five years ago, and as his condition worsened this past spring, the 27-year-old racer was elevated to the top of the transplant waiting list.
Klug plans to return to Aspen today to be with family and friends for the holidays before traveling to Breckenridge Jan. 5 for another Grand Prix.
“It took me a couple of months to get my ab [abdominal] strength back,” said Klug, who has a scar that reaches from his lower abdomen to the middle of his chest. “I knew I was healthy. I knew that [the transplant] was behind me and maybe I put a little bit more pressure on myself. I felt like, okay, now I’m perfectly healthy, I’m back and I want to prove how strong I am right now.”
During inspection prior to the second run, Klug judged the course to be too straight down the fall line. He thought it was going to run too fast for the icy conditions. However, he changed his mind after racing it.
“After inspection, I thought, `Why’d he set it so straight?'” said Klug. “And then I ran it and it ran beautifully. It was actually pretty turny, a little faster, but the gates didn’t seem to come at you too fast.”
It was the second podium in three days for Klug as he took third at a World Cup giant slalom Saturday at Mt. Sainte Anne, Quebec.
U.S. Snowboard Team rider Sondra Van Ert of Ketchum, Idaho, won the women’s event.
Van Ert, like Klug, was the Grand Prix alpine champion last season. She was in fourth place after the first run with a time of 1:10.67 but stormed back in her second pass to take the win with a combined time of 2:17.94. Canadians again rounded out the podium as Ivana Trudel was second in 2:18.00 and Alexa Loo took third with a time of 2:18.20.
The Okemo Grand Prix will be broadcast on NBC Dec. 30 at 1 p.m.
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