Klug picks up 10th national title in Quebec
The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO Colorado
MONT TREMBLANT, Quebec ” Chris Klug knew he had the potential. All the 36-year-old snowboarder needed was a chance.
“This sport sometimes makes you crazy, but you just got to stay positive, keep working hard and keep going for it,” Klug said Thursday. “It’s maddening because sometimes you’re so close ” it’s happened to me a couple times this year. … I just wanted another shot to finish the season on the podium.”
The Aspenite did just that Tuesday at Mont Tremblant in Quebec. Klug battled a strong field and fickle weather to finish third overall and first among Americans in parallel giant slalom at the U.S./Canadian Nationals. Tremblant local Jacey Jay Anderson and Toronto’s Matt Morrison finished first and second, respectively,
The national title is the 10th of Klug’s career and first since 2007 when he won both the PGS and parallel slalom in Banff, Alberta.
“I’ve had some ups and downs this season,” Klug said. “I’m really happy to end on a high note.
The 2009 season ” Klug’s 18th on the World Cup circuit ” started with promise. He advanced to the finals in the year’s first two events, posted a top-10 finish at a NorAm Cup event at Copper Mountain in November and took eighth in a World Cup PGS in Kreischberg, Austria, in early January.
“I was really feeling on top of my game,” Klug said. “I was so excited and fired up for the rest of the World Cup season. I felt really close to getting on the podium.”
That optimism came crashing down just days before the World Snowboard Championships in Gangwon, Korea.
Klug ejected out of a toe-side turn during a training run on Jan. 18 ” two days before the PGS ” his legs extended up to shoulder height and he landed directly on his tailbone. He tweaked his back, irritating a disc.
He was ultimately scratched from events in Korea, and headed back to Europe in an attempt to prepare for a late-January World Cup race in Germany. He could not recover in time.
“I was just too stiff to race. … I could barely buckle my bindings,” Klug said. “I’ve done it before, but usually at the end of the season. It wasn’t perfect timing.
“There’s nothing you can do but just get some rest, have good posture and take it easy. I’m not good at that.”
Klug was sidelined for two full weeks. He flew back to Aspen to receive treatment and was “nearly 100 percent” by the time he headed to British Columbia to compete in a World Cup at the Olympic venue at Cypress Mountain.
His return to competition was further delayed after the event was canceled. He was back in the start gate at a World Cup PGS in Stoneham, Quebec. He wound up crashing.
Klug subsequently took 18th in a World Cup PGS in Sunday River, Maine, in late February and 22nd in March 22’s World Cup PGS in Valmalenco, Italy. Despite the mixed results, he was pleased with his riding.
“I felt good on my board, but I didn’t perform like I knew I could,” Klug said. “I knew I could do it. I just tried to keep that in mind and stick to the plan and ride smart and aggressive.”
That mind-set paid off at Mont Tremblant, where he cruised into Tuesday’s PGS semifinals. There, he hung with Morrison during the first run but had a costly spin out at the bottom of the second, costing himself the chance for an overall title. He regrouped in the consolation final, besting Canadian Michael Lambert to finish on the podium and secure another national crown.
Klug’s good fortune continued Wednesday when he took fourth in parallel slalom, one spot behind U.S. teammate Joshua Wylie.
“I’ve been riding good and solid most of the year, but I did not have quite enough fire to punch it into the finals and make something happen,” Klug said. “I was happy to end on the podium.”
Now, he’s hoping to end his career with a third Winter Olympics appearance next February in Vancouver.
“This season, even when things were not quite how I wanted, it was still super fun,” he added. “I would love to end my competitive career there. I’ll be working as hard as I can in the spring and summer to do whatever it takes.”
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