Klug misses cut at worlds
Aspen, CO ColoradoAROSA, Switzerland – Local snowboarder Chris Klug failed to make the final bracket of 16 at Tuesday’s parallel giant slalom at the FIS Snowboard World Championships, finishing 21st.After breaking his ankle in August while training at Mount Hood in Oregon, Klug – an Olympic bronze medalist in 2002 – has been inconsistent thus far this season. He was fourth in a NorAm Cup parallel giant slalom Jan. 5 at Steamboat and third in another NorAm race Nov. 20 at Copper Mountain.In five World Cup starts he’s been 16th, 21st, 23rd, 13th and 36th.
Klug’s U.S. teammates fared much better Tuesday. Edwards’ Stacia Hookom finished fifth in the women’s parallel GS, and Massachusetts native Tyler Jewell – who edged Klug for an Olympic roster spot last year – was sixth in the men’s race. Justin Reiter of Steamboat Springs (11th) and Olympian Michelle Gorgone (13th) were the other Americans to qualify for head-to-head racing among the final 16.”We’re happy for sure, it was a good day for the team,” U.S. Snowboarding coach Steve Persons said in a news release. “I’m really proud of their riding – they were all pushing it and on the verge of going farther, but it just didn’t work out. These riders have all been working so hard and we’ve been pushing the entire team to another level. They’re all right there and all it’s going to take is one break through, which almost happened today for both Tyler and Stacia.”Hookom, who plans to retire after today’s parallel slalom, had the third-fastest qualifying time Tuesday. Her fifth-place finish marked a career-best worlds result.The women’s race was won by Russia’s Ekaterina Tudigescheva, while Slovenian Rok Flander was the men’s champion.
“I really would have liked to get a medal,” Hookom said. “That’s something that I’ve always been gunning for, so it’s pretty emotional to know that this was my last GS race and it didn’t happen.”It’s going to be tough to hang it up. I’ve been going over it in my mind the last couple of weeks. After every race, I kept thinking to myself that I’m only going to be able to do this a couple of more times, so I’ve made every race count.”Hookom said that she was proud of Jewell, Reiter and Gorgone for riding so well in the final, but regretted that the team had to walk away without a medal.
“I really wanted to see one of us on the podium today,” she said, “but it’s really hard to get there in PGS. It takes 10 races to make the podium and you have to be the fastest in all of them. I’m seeing a lot of great things with this team and hopefully the momentum will continue moving us forward.”Jewell agreed. He said the team dynamic is stronger than ever and credited good coaching and solid support from his teammates with his result Tuesday.”We’ve got the best staff we’ve had in years right now,” said Jewell, who was 11th in Turin. “The coaching staff is perfect, and we’ve got a great wax tech on board, plus all the riders are really dialing it in – it’s just a matter of time.”The alpine portion of the FIS Snowboard World Championships wraps up today. Olympic silver medalist Gretchen Bleiler will compete Saturday in halfpipe.
This wasn’t my best work. I still stand by my original picks to win each of the snowboard contests at X Games Aspen 2023, but fate chose poorly. The main lesson? Don’t pick against Mark McMorris, Marcus Kleveland or Scotty James, unless you have a very good reason.