Karlinski nips 3rd at Gravity Games | AspenTimes.com

Karlinski nips 3rd at Gravity Games

Nate PetersonEagle County correspondent

COPPER MOUNTAIN – To get there, you have to start somewhere.For Olympic boardercross hopeful Leslee Olson, that somewhere was the women’s boardercross final Thursday at the Winter Gravity Games.The once-retired 26-year-old from Mt. Bachelor, Ore., won gold in a wild final after front-runner Erin Simmons of Steamboat Springs took a bad line into the second turn and flew off course.Washington’s Marni Yamada swooped in for a second-place silver after Simmons blew out, and 15-year-old Snowmass Villager Jordie Karlinski flew past Kathrin Kellenberger on the second-to-last kicker for bronze.After she crossed the finish line, Olson dropped to her knees and was swarmed by friends and competitors.”I just am in shock,” she said. “I don’t know. I crossed the finish line and it was just emotion.”The podium finish was also a special one for Yamada and Karlinski.Yamada said this season has been the worst she can remember, snow-wise, in the Pacific Northwest, and the lackluster conditions have taken a toll on her riding.”I’m excited to get in an actual race, because it’s been kind of slow,” she said. “Our mountains have been closed, and I haven’t had any training or anything.”Karlinski, who qualified for her first Winter X Games this year, said she is still surprised every day by the riders she is competing against. To finish on the podium, as she did Thursday, represents an even bigger shock. “I do get nervous, because the other women have so much experience,” she said. “This is my first year really competing in high-level events. It’s really nerve wracking, but it’s really fun. I’ve learned to chill out a little.”With the win, Olson picked up $10,000. Yamada was awarded $5,000 and Karlinski, still not old enough to drive, earned $2,500.

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