Tardy or not, here Teter comes
Aspen Times Staff Writer
Where’s Hannah Teter?
That was the question a good many women, girls perhaps, were asking yesterday afternoon during the one-and-only practice session for the X Games’ women’s snowboarding superpipe competition at Buttermilk.
With the preliminaries slated for tonight, from 7 to 9 p.m., at The Milk of course, Teter was the notable no-show as the 19 other women flung themselves near and far in the 500-foot-long pipe (which everyone was raving about).
And alas, the 16-year-old high school junior from Vermont ” and most feared halfpipe dominatrix since Gretchen Bleiler injured her right knee last month ” did arrive at the pipe in time for two-and-a-half runs.
It seems Teter, who couldn’t list the number of events she had entered and/or won this season, encountered delay after delay in returning from a surf trip in Hawaii.
“It’s taken soooo long to get here,” she sighed. “We were supposed to leave Tuesday night, then we got delayed ” stayed in Hawaii. And then the next day we got delayed so we stayed in San Francisco. Now we’re here ” finalllllyyy.”
Last year, in Teter’s X Games debut, she finished third in the halfpipe behind golden girl Bleiler, of Snowmass Village, and 2002 Olympic gold medalist Kelly Clark, another Vermonster.
“You never know what’s going to happen. I would love to take the big medal, but I don’t know. All this traveling I’ve done, I’m feeling kind of tired,” Teter said.
“I’ve just got to go to bed early, wake up fresh and, you know, just do it.”
Wearing pink-rimmed goggles during the practice session, 19-year-old Molly Aguirre of Mammoth Lakes, Calif., caught Bleiler’s eye as she boosted big air to big air in and out of the pipe.
Bleiler, who is serving as a commentator for the Games because of her partial ACL tear, was impressed with the youngster’s tricks and confidence.
Asked about favorites, Bleiler listed Aguirre, Teter and Clark, who was also throwing huge tricks out of the pipe.
But Aguirre, who made her X Games debut at The Milk last winter, was careful not to project any false bravado.
“Last year didn’t go so well,” she said. “I fell on both my runs. But this year, I’m hoping to stick my stuff. And I didn’t fall too much today.
“I learned a couple new tricks today and I’m having a lot of fun.”
Aguirre took third at an event in Park City, Utah, this season, and finished fifth at a Grand Prix competition in Mammoth.
“I’m really actually surprised that I’m doing so well, because I’m kind of a rookie out here. It’s like my first year pro, I guess,” she said.
And asked about the favorites for the competition, Aguirre was quick to defer attention to her friend, Teter, who had just arrived in her trademark Mountain Dew-green helmet.
“One of the top girls, obviously, is Hannah Teter,” Aguirre said. “She’s not only smooth, she goes big. She’s really confident in her tricks, but she has an awesome personality and attitude which makes her a top woman competitor to me. There’s Lindsey Jacobellis, there’s Kelly Clark, who’s riding awesome today ” she’s up there. But every girl out here is one of the top in the world; they’re all awesome and they all have good tricks and have fun riding. It’s going to be an awesome contest.”
Aguirre downplayed Teter’s late arrival, too.
“She’s a professional. She can ride two pipes in practice and still ride awesome [Friday]. She’s that kind of girl. I don’t think she’s worried about it ” I’m not worried about it ” and she’s gonna bust out for sure.”
After all, as Teter says of Friday’s preliminary event, “It’s only pre-quals, so you know.”
The skiercross racers, men and women, also tested the X course for the first time yesterday.
Old Snowmass’ Casey Puckett, for one, liked what he saw after four practice runs down the track.
“Much cooler than last year, definitely,” said Puckett, a 12-year U.S. Ski Team racer and four-time Olympian. “Bigger jumps and more speed.”
The skiercross and boardercross racers will lay down timed runs today in order for the fields to be seeded and set for Saturday’s head-to-head elimination rounds.
Puckett planned on running the course a few more times yesterday to figure out its intricacies.
“You just gotta figure out the speed,” he said. “How hard you’re gonna press, if you’re gonna ride it or pop it. It’s mostly jumps. There’s nothing technical and there’s not a lot of turning involved. It’s just gliding and jumps.”
So who does the course favor, Casey?
“It favors a big guy with a lot of mass who can glide well. And fast skis. That’s who it favors.”
And you are among the bigger guys, eh?
“I’m among the bigger guys, yeah, and I can glide well.
“But I have no clue. Skiercross, I guess you just don’t know what will happen. I guess that’s sort of the appeal with skiercross ” you just can’t really predict a winner very easily. There’s a lot of variables so it’s hard to say. You’ve just got to go out and make some clean starts, try and glide as best you can, make good jumps, stay on your feet and see what happens.”
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Winter sports practices were officially allowed to begin last week, Jan. 18, after the Colorado High School Activities Association was given a variance from the state’s health officials. Games were allowed to be played starting this week.