Canadian Hayer, France’s David win skiercross titles
The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO Colorado
ASPEN ” Buttermilk’s X Course has been the place for repeat performances at this year’s Winter X Games.
Nate Holland sped his way to a fourth consecutive gold while Lindsey Jacobellis made it two straight during Saturday’s boardercross men’s and women’s finals. And Sunday, France’s Ophelie David captured her third straight women’s skiercross crown.
Stanley Hayer was more than happy to buck that trend. The Canadian surged to the front at the start of Sunday’s men’s skiercross final and never relinquished the lead. As competitors jockeyed for position behind him ” leading to one collision that knocked 2008 champion Daron Rahlves off course and out of contention ” the green-bib clad Hayer cruised to the finish.
Japan’s Hiroomi Takizawa mounted a late charge from the back of the field to clip Swiss rider Andreas Steffen in a photo finish and take silver. Rahlves, a decorated former World Cup skier making his third appearance at Winter X, wound up fourth.
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“I think we kind of ruined ESPN’s show,” joked Hayer about knocking Rahlves, the field’s lone American, off the podium. “I came in second last year, but other than that, no one knows who I am.”
That should change now. In 2005, Hayer took eighth in his fist Winter X Games. He followed that up with a seventh-place finish in 2006 and a fourth in 2007.
Sunday, he was the clear favorite in both the qualifying and final rounds.
“My starts were really good today,” Hayer said. “I was surprised that no one ever passed me. There was only one [track], and it got worked in pretty good. I left a big hole behind me. I thought someone would blow right by me.”
Rahlves, who settled into second early, appeared primed to reel in Hayer. But a slight misstep cost him time, and he soon found himself in a crowded pack as the field headed toward a narrow gap with walls of ice rising on either side. Rahlves collided with another competitor, was knocked off balance and skidded into deep snow abutting the course, losing most of his speed.
Steffen made it cleanly through. As the finish line approached, he set his sights on Hayer.
“There was some gap between me and him, but I caught up,” Steffen said. “I said ‘We’re here. Let’s go for gold.'”
Hayer, who said he looked for shadows as he flew off jumps and around off-camber turns, saw little during 4,300 of the course’s 4,400 feet. As he launched off the final jump, however, he finally had company. Steffen and Takizawa, who made an impressive charge to the front, were now just a few feet out of the lead.
While he didn’t have enough ground to top Hayer, Takizawa managed to inch past Steffen at the line. Video replay confirmed that the Japanese rider, a former mogul skier, had won silver.
“I was a little nervous this morning, the course was so slow,” Takizawa said. “It’s been eight years, but [now] I’m on the podium.”
French rider Ophelie David led from wire to wire in 2008’s Winter X skiercross final.
This time around, she took a different route to a third consecutive gold. David charged from as far back as fourth in Sunday’s final, speeding past Swede Magdalena Jonsson at the line to pull out a victory by the narrowest of margins.
Slovakia’s Sasa Faric finished third.
“It’s a crazy race and anything can happen,” David said. “To be honest, in the middle of the race I thought ‘Oh, [Jonsson’s] too far ahead.'”
David was first off the line, but veered off course and was passed by half the field. Jonsson led that group, vaulting to the front as the course wound down the middle of Buttermilk.
David bided her time.
“The course is really long and passes can happen,” she said. “You have to stay calm and see what’s going to happen. You have to try to catch those opportunities.”
She did just that, picking off riders and gaining ground. By the final jump, she was nipping at Jonsson’s ski tails. David chose an inside line and tucked as she soared through the air. Johnson, meanwhile, hit some soft snow and flailed both arms wildly as she spotted her landing.
A slight misstep in last year’s final cost Jonsson the gold. This time around, she said she did everything she could.
“Yeah, [I thought I won],” added Jonsson, who has medaled five times at Winter X but has never taken home gold. “I couldn’t do anything. … I was thinking ‘Oh Finally!’ Then [bam], I hit some fresh snow on the side. I did not expect the snow.”
While Jonsson conceded she was happy with silver (husband Eric Andersson was sixth in the men’s final), Faric was just happy to be back on skis. She fell off a jump in late December and dislocated her hip. She missed three World Cup races and has competed just twice this season.
“Everybody said two months, but I worked real hard,” Faric said. “I’m back. It’s good for me. I can’t believe it.”
1. Stanley Hayer / Kimberley, BC, Canada / 97.070
2. Hiroomi Takizawa / Yonezawa, Japan / 97.186
3. Andreas Steffen / Gstaad, Switzerland / 97.231
4. Daron Rahlves / Truckee, Calif. / 98.498
5. Brian Bennett / Quesnel, BC, Canada / 98.957
6. Eric Andersson / Nora, Sweden / 99.498
7. Brady Leman / Calgary, AB, Canada / 94.542
8. Tomas Kraus / Decin, Czech Republic / 94.759
9. Tommy Eliasson / A-Stersund, Sweden / 96.555
10. Davey Barr / Whistler, BC, Canada / 96.608
11. Andy Matt / Flirsch, Austria / 96.773
12. Chris Del Bosco / Vail, Colo. / 96.945
1. Ophelie David / Alpe D’Huez, France / 106.052
2. Magdalena Jonsson / Nora, Sweeden / 107.260
3. Sasa Faric / Radomlje, Slovakia / 111.944
4. Seraina Murk / Lenzerheide, Switzerland / 117.251
5. Karin Huttary / Innsbruck, Austria / 109.361
6. Kelsey Serwa / Kelowna, BC, Canada / DNF
7. Julia Murray / Whistler, BC, Canada / 107.478
8. Ashleigh McIvor / Whistler, BC, Canada / 110.979
9. Marion Josserand / Sachilienne, France / 115.504
10. Jenny Owens / Freshwater, Australia / 111.879
11. Anik Demers-Wild / Truckee, Calif. / 151.246
12. Hedda Berntsen / Oslo, Norway / DNF
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