Klug climbs to podium
Aspen snowboarder Chris Klug battled from the 10th qualifying spot to finish third in the parallel giant slalom at the World Cup Finals on Sunday in Bardonecchia, Italy.
Klug, the 2002 Olympic bronze medalist in PGS, tallied his first podium of the season on the same course where he qualified for the Salt Lake City Winter Games and the same course that will host the 2006 Olympic PGS.
“I couldn’t ask for any more, it’s been a great last month for me ” I’m so happy,” said Klug, who has four top-10 World Cup finishes in the last month. “The last four or five races have been great for me. What a way to end it! I love this hill and I’m so stoked that this is the Olympic hill for 2006.”
The road to the third spot was nothing short of difficult for Klug. After handing 2001 World PGS champ Gilles Jaquet of Switzerland a .54 second loss in the first round, Klug ousted 2003 World Championship double-medalist Simon Schoch of Switzerland before meeting World Cup leader and Bardonecchia winner Siegfried Grabner of Austria in the semifinal.
“I fought hard on my second run and made up a second on ‘Siggy,’ and he just ended up beating me by two-tenths,” said Klug. “I had a lot to make up ” I made a mistake, just a little lack of balance coming into a heel-side turn in the middle of the course and it kind of shot me out of the course into the soft stuff.
“I fought as hard as I could, but he’s fast too. If I hadn’t made that little mistake I would have been able to get him.”
But the work didn’t end there. Klug moved to the “small final” to race 2003 World PGS champ Dejan Kosir, where he handed the Slovenian a 0.47- second loss.
“I’m stoked to win this one and get a podium for our team and for [coach] Jeff Archibald and for everybody, because he never stopped believing, and we had a few ups and downs in the early part of the season and they all hung in there, but it’s a great way to end it,” added Klug.
“This hill has been real good to me ” I love it here,” said Klug. “The snow is always good here and it’s like that Colorado or Utah hero super grip, the snow has good consistency and you can really carve the heck out of it. It’s similar to what I’m used to.”
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Mikaela Shiffrin beat Petra Vlhova of Slovakia Sunday to win the first women’s World Cup race in North America in two years. The win puts Shiffrin even with racing legend Ingemar Stenmark at 46 wins in a single discipline.