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Klug’s Olympic fate up in air

Eddie Pells
The Associated Press
** FILE ** Chris Klug of the U.S. clears a gate during the men's parallel giant slalom at the Winter Olympics in Park City in this Feb 15, 2002 photo. The snowboard racer appealed to the U.S. Olympic Committee on Thursday for a spot on the team he feels he was unjustly denied. If he makes it, it would be only his second most dramatic comeback story. In 2002, he won a bronze medal only months after successful liver transplant surgery. (AP Photo/Peter Dejong)
AP | AP

DENVER ” The fight is much different for Aspen’s Chris Klug this time around.

Four years ago, it was life and death, an inspirational return from a liver transplant, followed by a trip to the Olympics, where he incredibly and improbably left with a bronze medal.

This time, it’s a much less dramatic, but still pressing, matter ” the matter of earning a trip back to the Olympics that he feels he’s been unfairly denied.

Klug spent nearly nine hours in a hearing with U.S. Olympic Committee arbitrators Thursday, stating his case that he belongs on the 16-member U.S. snowboarding team that will be in Turin next month.

“I’m optimistic,” Klug said as he awaited the start of the hearing. “I think they’ll go by the criteria, and things will work out fine.”

The meeting ended in the evening. Klug’s agent, Peter Carlisle, didn’t immediately return a message seeking comment.

Precisely how the arbitrators interpret the criteria will determine whether Klug goes or Tyler Jewell takes the spot. The U.S. Ski and Snowboard Association tabbed Jewell Jan. 29 as the country’s lone male parallel giant slalom racer.

A decision is expected today. The USOC must finalize its Olympic roster and turn it into the IOC no later than Monday.

The arbitrators have an interesting task in front of them, and there doesn’t appear to be a clear-cut answer.

According to selection on the USSA website, up to two parallel giant slalom racers per gender can be nominated to the team if they have a top-four finish in the previous World Cup season.

No Americans fit that criteria, so the next step in the process calls for one athlete per gender to be selected using an average of their top two World Cup results from the season.

The question being decided is exactly what the word “result” means.

Klug’s top two finishes are 15th and 16th, for an average of 15.5.

Jewell’s top two finishes are ninth and 24th for an average of 16.5.

But in World Cup events, there is also a weighted points system.

Klug’s two finishes were worth 310 points, for an average of 155.

Jewell’s two finishes were worth 360 points, for an average of 180.

Whether the selection criteria was written to consider points or finishing place is the question that must be decided.

USSA spokesman Tom Kelly said the organization could not comment while the matter was in arbitration.

USOC spokesman Darryl Seibel did not immediately return messages seeking comment.


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