It’s official: Aspen’s Klug, Bleiler stamp tickets to Vancouver |

It’s official: Aspen’s Klug, Bleiler stamp tickets to Vancouver

Eddie Pells
The Associated Press
Aspen, CO Colorado
Sean Kilpatrick/The Canadian Press/APChris Klug of Aspen turns around a gate Sunday during a World Cup snow­board parallel giant slalom qualification heat in Stoneham, Quebec.

King of the comeback, Chris Klug is heading back to the Olympics.

Eight years after bringing his inspirational story to Salt Lake City, the 37-year-old Aspen snowboarder will return to the games in Vancouver.

Klug won a bronze medal in 2002 in parallel giant slalom, only 19 months after a successful liver transplant, but saw his chance for a return trip in 2006 quashed after losing an appeal over technicalities in the Olympic qualifying system.

He encountered more trouble last year when he didn’t make the U.S. Snowboarding “A” team and was denied funding in the lead-up to the 2010 Games. But he started his own team – America’s Snowboard Team – and carved a new route to the Olympics.

“I’m really proud to have over­come some of the challenges,” Klug said Monday after finding out he had officially made the team. “We set out to create our own team. It worked. I made it. We put together one of the best training environ­ments ever, and I’m proud of that.”

Klug sealed his spot with an eighth-place finish in a World Cup event over the weekend.

He’ll be joined on the American PGS team with Tyler Jewell, the rid­er who beat him out for the only spot in 2006, then had to wait for Klug’s appeal to the U.S. Olympic Committee, which was ultimately rejected.

“He shook my hand after the race Sunday and said, ‘We’re teammates again,”‘ Klug said. “He told me con­gratulations. I was really stoked about that.”

Michelle Gorgone will be Ameri­ca’s only woman rider in PGS, which is widely regarded as the least-popular of the three Olympic snowboarding disciplines – one of the main reasons funding is more difficult to come by.

The United States also added two halfpipe riders to the team Monday – 2006 Olympian Elena Hight and Greg Bretz. They’ll join Shaun White, Louie Vito, Scotty Lago, Kel­ly Clark, Aspen’s Gretchen Bleiler and Han­nah Teter, whose spots were announced Saturday at a U.S. Grand Prix event. White, Clark, Bleiler and Teter have a combined three Olympic gold and one silver medal between them.

Lindsey Jacobellis was officially nominated to the team in snow­boardcross. She settled for silver in 2006 after falling while grabbing her snowboard to celebrate what looked like was going to be an easy victory. Nate Holland, Nick Baum­gartner, Graham Watanabe and defending Olympic champion Seth Wescott will compete for the men.

Klug, meanwhile, is making his third Olympics – a string that began when snowboarding was introduced in 1998 and reached its crescendo on a sunsplashed day in Park City, Utah, eight years ago.

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