Chris Klug 33rd in GS
Local snowboarder Chris Klug is hoping to shrug this one off.One day after his 16th place finish in a World Cup parallel giant slalom event in Le Relais, Quebec, earned him 150 precious FIS points, Klug missed an opportunity Sunday in the same discipline to strengthen his Olympic position. He finished 33rd in the Olympic qualifier, earning 24 points. He posted just the fifth-fastest time among American competitors.”It’s a little dissapointing because I had a great chance to solidify my Olympic standing,” Klug said in a telephone interview Sunday. “I’ll probably dwell on it tonight and tomorrow, but I’ll come home and get over it. I knew I needed to go out and take some chances, but I didn’t ride as fast as I’m capable.”The Swiss swept the podium. Simon Schoch took gold, Philipp Schoch – Saturday’s winner – the silver and Heinz Inniger the bronze. The U.S.’s Tyler Jewel, who finished ninth, was the lone American in the top 20. Klug, facing a tough draw and “overcast and gray Quebec weather,” failed to qualify for a second run. Klug couldn’t pinpoint any position where he faltered; he just didn’t take enough risks.The red course that Klug – seeded 21st – raced on was stacked with the competition’s strongest snowboarders, Klug said. The fastest time on the red course was nearly one second quicker than the blue.Making matters more difficult was the weather, Klug said. More than a foot of fresh snow fell a week before the event, making the course bumpy, slick and inconsistent. Snow and low light during Sunday’s event made visibility as tough a challenge as the course itself.”I couldn’t see what I was riding on,” Klug said. “I came up a little short and was a little unlucky.”There are only two Olympic qualifying events remaining – Jan. 8 in Kreichberg, Austria, and Jan. 15 in Olang, Italy – but Klug insists his confidence is not shaken. He is leaning on his success in Nov. 21 and 22’s Continental Cup races at Copper Mountain, where he won back-to-back parallel giant slaloms. He is leaning on his past successes and his knack for dramatic season-ending performances. In 2002, Klug earned a spot in the Salt Lake City Olympics after a strong performance in the season’s final qualifier. Coincedentally, it took place in Kreichberg. The course in Olang also bares personal significance for Klug: He won there just six months after a liver transplant in 2000.”I have two more good opportunities in January,” Klug said. “I’ve done well on both hills. The man-made snow [in Austria] is similar to where I like to train on [Aspen Mountain’s] Strawpile and 1A.”I know I ride my best in January and February. It’s still early in the season.”Klug is confident he will bounce back next month. To ensure that he continues to progress, Klug will be competing in a Continental Cup event at Okemo in Vermont on Tuesday. The race will be insignificant as far as FIS points, but there is no better training than a competition, Klug said. From there, Klug plans to return to Aspen, where spending the holidays with friends and family as well as some fresh powder will help ease the disapointment, Klug said. He leaves for Europe on Jan. 3.Now is the time to regroup, not panic, Klug said. “It’s a bummer. It would’ve been real nice to wrap up a qualification,’ Klug said. “It didn’t happen and I have to put it behind me and focus on January.”Jon Maletz’s e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org
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