Aspen’s Chris Klug not a factor in Telluride Olympic qualifier | AspenTimes.com

Aspen’s Chris Klug not a factor in Telluride Olympic qualifier

Jon Maletz
The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO Colorado

TELLURIDE, Colo. – Ever the optimist, Chris Klug on Thursday talked about returning home to freeride and about his impending trip to Europe.

The Aspen snowboarder could do little to mask his lingering disappointment, however, after a lackluster performance in Telluride. The 37-year-old struggled during his opening run in Thursday’s World Cup parallel giant slalom – the second of five Olympic qualifiers. He finished 23nd overall, and third among the American contingent.

In Tuesday’s qualifier, on the same course, Klug was the top U.S. finisher and wound up 15th.

“It didn’t go as well as I would’ve liked,” he said Thursday in a phone interview with The Aspen Times. “There were great conditions, I just made a few little mistakes. … The second [run] was good but it was too little, too late.

“It’s frustrating because I’m riding well.”

Canadians Jasey Jay Anderson and Michael Lambert went 1-2, and Slovenia’s Rok Flander finished third.

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Two days after finishing 20th, Bend, Ore.’s Adam Smith, the lone American to advance to the head-to-head rounds, wound up 14th. White Salmon, Wash.’s Vic Wild was 20th.

“It wasn’t quite as good a day as I had before, but the bottom line is there’s a lot of fast guys gunning for only 16 spots. You have to throw down,” Klug said. “It was a fairly easy course … and you had to push hard. I was not as aggressive as I needed to be.”

A recent injury could explain that. Less than two weeks ago, Klug broke his right hand and wrist when he struck a gate during a training run in Telluride.

He sported a cast on both Tuesday and Thursday.

“It’s not ideal for the starts. I’m not winning that for sure,” Klug said. “I don’t have quite as much of a margin for error with the cast on if I get bounced a little and have to have my hand down to recover. I don’t have that luxury.

“I’m glad to get through all this and not do any more damage.”

Klug will spend the next two weeks training and riding in Aspen. Monday, he’ll try to convince his doctor to fit him for a soft cast – “I’m going to have to twist his arm,” Klug joked.

He is then slated to head to Europe on New Year’s Eve to begin preparations for the next Olympic qualifier, Jan. 6 in Kreischberg, Austria.

Klug finished eighth in Kreischberg in January – his lone top 10 in his last 48 World Cup starts. He has not been on the podium in a World Cup race since March 2004.

Klug is currently 25th in the World Cup PGS standings. Four Americans are ahead of him.

Still, he is convinced that, despite his age (he was the second-oldest competitor in Tuesday’s race), he is riding as fast as ever. He said he’s eager to prove he can still compete with the sport’s elite.

“I’m sitting all right. I know I’ve got some work to do, but I believe I can do it,” Klug added. “I like my chances for January.”

jmaletz@aspentimes.com