Holland completes four-peat in boardercross at Aspen Winter X
ASPEN ” One of his top rivals and U.S. Snowboarding teammates called him out of shape earlier in the week. Not that Nate Holland needed any extra motivation.
The three-time defending Winter X boardercross champion proved that his legs were just fine Saturday on a slow track at Buttermilk in Aspen, biding his time in the final before blowing past Graham Watanabe and early leader Stian Sivertzen to claim his fourth gold in as many years.
Being that this is boardercross, this was anything but a sure thing. Holland rubbed elbows with Jonathan Cheever near the start, then had to come all the way from fourth to reel in Watanabe, then Sivertzen.
“This one was especially hard,” Holland said. “The guys really made me work for it.”
Sivertzen wound up third after losing control around a turn, allowing Watanabe a window to pass. Sivertzen quickly recovered, however, and capped his bronze medal run with a huge front flip off the course’s final jump. Holland admitted that he was feeling the burn after three runs down a track slowed by fresh snow, but added, “When you’re in the finals, you’re just going for it. You’re not even thinking about your legs. All you want to do is win.”
Watanabe said that feeling is mutual, but added that Holland maybe wanted to win a little more than everyone else Saturday.
“I’m so psyched for him,” he said. “It’s definitely not something that’s going to be accomplished many times in this sport. He’s just got that drive. It’s that confidence or something that’s almost supernatural. He can make himself go faster and he definitely wanted it more than anybody out there.”
Holland, in a bit of sportsmanship, acknowledged Saturday that he was aware of the comments made by U.S. Snowboarding mate Seth Wescott which hinted at Holland being out of shape. His win Saturday was a statement that didn’t require words.
“A four-peat in this thing. It’s more just like another win for me,” he said. “I’ve got a little streak going, so maybe you guys [the media] can put a little more pressure on me next year.”
Wescott failed to make the finals for the first time in 12 Winter X appearances after he got tangled up with Cheever in the semifinals.
With snow and sleet falling throughout the morning, the 3,500-foot long cross course at Buttermilk ” much longer than World Cup course ” proved to be even more of a challenge than usual. Holland, for one, is a fan of longer courses, making the argument that they reward the strongest riders.
After all the jockeying on the way down a course that packed in rollers, banked turns and three large kickers, Holland wound up crossing the finish line with plenty of room to spare in front of Watanabe.
“With this course being as long as it is, you can have patience,” Holland said. “You’re not going to win the race in turn one, but you sure can lose it. You kind of just let the cards unfold and see where you are and then just start being tactical and smart going down the course.”
1. Nate Holland / Truckee, Calif. / 100.523
2. Graham Watanabe / Hailey, Idaho / 101.153
3. Stian Sivertzen / Kongsberg, Norway / 105.193
4. David Speiser / Oberstdorf, Germany / 107.561
5. Nick Baumgartner / Iron River, Mich. / 108.270
6. Jonathan Cheever / Saugus, Mass. / 114.935
7. Seth Wescott / Sugarloaf, Maine / 100.607
8. Rob Fagan / Cranbrook, B.C., Canada / 101.392
9. Jason Smith / Basalt, Colo. / 102.317
10. Jayson Hale / Sierraville, Calif. / 103.242
11. Michal Novotny / Prague, Czech Republic / 103.391
12. Pat Holland / Sandpoint, Idaho / 105.963
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