Local halfpipe riders miss finals at World Cup opener
A good day for U.S. Snowboarding in the halfpipe wasnt a memorable one for Aspen locals Gretchen Bleiler and Tricia Byrnes. Bleiler and Byrnes both failed to make the final cut of nine at Saturdays World Cup season opener at Cardona, N.Z., finishing 22nd and 14, respectively. Teammates Lindsey Jacobellis (Stratton Mountain, Vt.) and Clair Bidez (Minturn) fared much better, taking the silver and the bronze. Swiss rider Manuela Laura Pesko earned the win, edging Jacobellis the defending World Cup boardercross champion with a score of 42.1. The top U.S. male rider was Luke Wynen (Mammoth Lakes, Calif.) in fourth.Jacobellis and Bidez both had the opportunity to overtake Pesko on their final runs, but just came up short. Jacobellis was just .4 points back of the winner, and Bidez finished with a score of 39.7. My better run was my first, Jacobellis said in a news release. I was able to put my tricks together. I had a blast. It was awesome weather the best weve had down here and that makes it so much easier to see everything. The winds didnt pick up until the last run. It was snowing in practice and through the first run, but then it stopped. Jacobellis added that its always nice to start the season with a podium. Bidez, the reigning Junior World Championships halfpipe gold medalist, also had a better first run as she secured her first World Cup podium. Riders are judged on the better of their two runs. Im so stoked to be riding with Lindsey, Bidez said. The snow was soft and falling apart in training this week, and it got soft today, but it held together well enough. I certainly cant complain. Ryoh Ayono of Japan won the mens contest with 45.1 points off his first run; Wynens 37.9 came on his second run. Elijah Teter (South Lake Tahoe, Calif.) was the only other U.S. rider in the top 10, taking eighth (31.0). We had three guys in finals and they were going for it, too, but came up a little short on their last hit, said U.S. Snowboarding halfpipe coach Mike Jankowski. But they werent going for fourth or fifth. They were going for the win and thats what we want. Thats the team spirit. Jankowski said the weather, which had been problematic through much of the week at this resort, between Wanaka and Queenstown, had been expected to be nasty, but it cleared in time for good conditions. It turned out to be a great day for the riders; the pipe was exceptional and the riders were able to show what they can do, he said. The World Cup resumes Sept. 26-29 in El Colorado, Chile, with a pair of boardercross competitions for men and women. The next halfpipe is scheduled for Nov. 2 in Saas Fee, Switzerland.
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