Stacia Hookom breaks through for American women; Aspen’s Klug fifth in men’s PGS field
SOELDEN, Austria ? Stacia Hookom of Edwards, riding under a self-imposed “shape up or ship out” edict, overcame gnarly snow conditions Tuesday to finish second behind Olympic snowboard champion Isabelle Blanc of France in a World Cup parallel giant slalom on the Rettenbach Glacier.
In the men’s PGS, Olympic bronze medalist and Aspen resident Chris Klug posted the top U.S. finish, coming in fifth.
“Today was icy and I’m not good on ice,” Hookom said after the second World Cup PGS of the new season, “so I had to challenge myself and I was able to hold it together and do well. The second run, one side of the course was worse than the other, and my second run I had the icier course and I let it get the best of me. I kept saying, ‘Stacey, don’t let the mountain get the best of you’ and it turned out to be a lot of fun.”
In the men’s race, Klug was defeated by Slovenian Dejan Kosir in the quarterfinals. Frenchman Mathieu Bozzetto went on to defeat Austrian Felix Stadler in the final and Kosir dropped to fourth behind Alexander Maier of Austria.
Hookom, 27, who was a sophomore biology major at the University of Colorado, put medical school on hold in recent seasons ? she originally wanted to be an orthopedic surgeon ? as she focused on riding, was second for the fourth time in her career. The last time was in a parallel slalom early in the 1998 season, also at Soelden.
“It’s been so long since I’ve been in the finals. I’ve always wanted to win a World Cup and I’ve been close, but it just hasn’t happened. So I said, ‘Stacey, this is your chance that you’ve worked eight years for; don’t let it pass you by.’ I didn’t get the win,” she said, “but I didn’t let it pass me by. I consider myself a strong rider on the flats but Isabelle is the Olympic gold medalist and she was better today. She had a great race.”
Hookom, who became a snowboarder when she and a friend saw a sign for free lessons at Vail more than a decade ago, said she and another friend discussed her racing during the Snowboard Team’s training camp at Copper Mountain last week. He pointed to her Chevy Truck U.S. Snowboard Grand Prix PGS victory and both U.S. titles a year ago ? and a PGS win two years ago at Breckenridge, CO, and convinced her she could beat the other riders. Now, Hookom’s looking to be top-5 in every World Cup race, she said.
“I’m so glad I got to be on the podium again,” she said. “I need to be going all-out all the time.”
The racing continues today with a parallel slalom.
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Sophomore Ava Lane is a flourishing star in her own right, but spends a lot of her time trying to chase down senior Sierra Bower and sophomore Katelyn Maley, both in practice and in races. This, however, is only making her stronger down the line and it’s not a task she will shy away from.