Thorndike takes Grand Prix title and new truck
Aspen Times Staff Writer
New Hampshire native Pete Thorndike expected cheers after his winning run in the U.S. Snowboard Grand Prix Finals parallel giant slalom on Saturday.
Instead, Thorndike was greeted at the finish line by a barrage of snowballs.
It was a fitting welcome. Thorndike collected his parallel GS victory on Saturday, a fourth-place finish in the Grand Prix slalom on Friday, and multiple wins in Grand Prix events earlier this season to become the men’s national champion and the overall Grand Prix winner.
The overall title earned Thorndike a new truck from event sponsor Chevy – and the aforementioned snowball in the kisser.
Had Thorndike not pulled off a win on Saturday, Vail’s Stacia Hookum – the women’s national champ and winner of Saturday’s women’s parallel GS – would have been crowned the overall Grand Prix winner. In that case, she would have been handed the keys of that Chevy S-10 pickup, and not the upstart Thorndike.
So, while Chevy gifted Thorndike with a new ride, Hookum presented him with a face full of ice – but all in good fun.
“I’m not complaining in the least,” she laughed afterward. “Pete has had an amazing season. Pete’s been in the sport a really long time, and he’s always been in the shadow of other great riders. It’s about time that he’s had the chance to come out and be the champion.”
And did Thorndike feel at all guilty, snatching the grand prize from Hookum’s grasp?
“No, ’cause she got two [trucks] last year,” he laughed.
Considering Saturday’s nail-biting, down-to-the-wire Grand Prix, Thorndike was actually surprised he competed as well as he did.
“There was a lot of pressure, and I can’t believe I got over it,” Thorndike said. “I’m overwhelmed. I’ve never won anything this big, and I’m glad we put on a good show for it.”
Thorndike, Hookum, and fellow women’s competitor Lisa Kosglow were all in the running for the Grand Prix grand prize, thanks to top finishes in earlier competitions in Park City and Mount Bachelor. So Saturday’s parallel GS and Friday’s slalom at Aspen Highlands, the last contests of the year, were their last chances to prove themselves.
In the women’s finals, Hookum edged Kosglow in a photo finish – she crossed the finish line just .02 seconds ahead. The pair finish quite a few races this way – Hookum and Kosglow have been trading the top podium spots all season.
And to think Hookum, frustrated by 20th-place finishes in multiple competitions last year, almost retired from the sport completely.
“Top 20 is pretty good, but not for five years. I gave myself one more year to say, ‘OK, am I good at this, or am I 20th at this?'” she said.
This year’s Grand Prix has apparently been kind to many racers.
“Really, this is one of the best years I’ve ever had – mostly in the U.S., with a couple of really good international competitions. The Grand Prix circuit seemed to be my thing this year – I won three of the four races,” Thorndike said.
The weekend’s Grand Prix held other surprises. Hometown favorite – and, frankly, race favorite – Chris Klug was surprisingly knocked from competition early Saturday after crossing into his competitor’s course during the race semifinals.
Klug finished the day in 12th place.
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The third weekend of play begins Thursday and runs through Sunday with the Bantam B, Squirt A and Squirt B divisions. Because of safety protocols, spectators aren’t allowed.