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Big wins, fast horses and future Olympians

Ian Cropp,Vail CO, Colorado

While you were putting the finishing touches on the bean dip, or resisting the urge to dig into the guacamole, Jess Cumming and Taylor Seaton were pulling an Eli Manning.The Copper Mountain skiers and Eagle County residents took a jump to the elite level with amazing performances at the U.S. Freeskiing Open on their home hill.Cumming, fresh off a fourth-place finish at the X Games, brushed off a pair of sub-par runs, then brought out all the tricks on her final pass to win the superpipe. Last year, Seaton put his name out there with a win at the Big Bear Open, but really thrust himself onto the scene Sunday with a second-place finish in the mens superpipe. Not bad considering Seaton sat out most of last season with an injured heel.The most impressive performance, however, may have been that of Vails Claudia Bouvier. After breaking her neck and nearly becoming paralyzed, Bovier sat out a year and made a surprisingly quick recovery. That she was competing in the U.S. Freeskiing Open was amazing. That she took third in the slopestyle was inspiring.Congratulations to Sarah Gaxiola Schleper and husband Federico on the birth of their first child, Lasse. According to proud grandfather Buzz, Lasse was born ski poles in his hands and a surf board under his feet. Schleper, now 7 pound, 9 ounces lighter, should be able to cruise a bit faster on skis, although her younger brother, Hunter has taken the reins for now.This past weekend, Hunter, along with Iced Out Racing teammate Kitt Flowers, for a lack of better terms, invaded Nakiska, Alberta. In four technical races, Hunter, the J2 racer picked up three wins and a third-place finish in competitive FIS-level races, while Flowers, another J2, had two top-five finishes and took second in one race.And kudos to Ski and Snowboard Clubs John Kemp and Brian Shpall, who went 1-2 in a junior national race in Italy, along with SSCV womens racer Whitney Setterberg, who rubbed elbows with top junior racers at a pair of Swiss junior nationals races. This list goes on, so for the sake of brevity, I urge you to check back later this week to find out all of the locals who piled up the podium finishes.

At the first World Cup skicross in North America Saturday in Deer Valley, Utah, the North Americans showed why they are early favorites for the 2010 Olympics on the mens side. Canadian Davey Barr picked up his first career win while Aspens Casey Puckett had yet another top finish, placing second. Call me crazy, but this whole one North American World Cup race per year deal doesnt seem right. When the powers that be get together and approve the schedule for next year, theres not reason to include the Jeep King of the Mountain tour as FIS-sanctioned events.

Triathlons in the high country arent always easy to organize, considering the distinct lack of open water. When it comes to winter triathlons, however, there is plenty of frozen water on which to snowshoe, bike and ski. Yeah, biking on snow. Saturday, at the Pedal Power winter triathlon at the Tennessee Pass Nordic Center, I discovered there is no such thing as a swimming leg, at least not yet. While Id never attempt to organize one myself its not easy, despite the amount of snow the competition would conclude with a downhill ice hockey race (check out http://www.redbullcrashedicegame.com to see the insanity).



You know youve had a bad weekend when … you place fifth and fourth in a pair of World Cup races. Such are the rules by which Lindsey Vonn plays. In all honestly, youve got to feel bad for her, as she missed the podium by 0.01 seconds and second place by 0.05 seconds in a super-G Sunday, one day after she missed the podium by 0.07 in a downhill.Sure, shes disappointed, but, like she said, shell go to the tapes and see where she can pick up some time. Keeping Vonn off the podium in speed events is hard enough when shes skiing well, but when she has some extra motivation, it will be all the more difficult. Look out. Even with the super-combined title wrapped up, Bode Miller still isnt happy with his slalom skiing. If he keeps things going at the current pace, Miller will take the overall, whether hes skiing up to his own lofty standards or not.

There is really no excuse to stay inside this weekend. Friday, the Honda Session gets rolling with the rails competition, and heats up Golden Peak again Saturday night with slopestyle. You know all those tricks you wish you could do on a snowboard? Well, these guys and girls can do them. Saturday, skijoring makes its return to the county with an event in Eagle that continues Sunday (and will be back next week at the 4 Eagle Ranch). If youve never seen skijoring in person, youve led a deprived life. And for those wanting to kick some bass (OK, it couldnt resist), there is an ice-fishing tournament at Twin Lakes that runs from Saturday morning straight through until Sunday afternoon. Skinny dipping optional. And if you didnt get enough powder on the slopes, the Beaver Creek Snowshoe Adventure Series is back with the Jeremy Wright North American Championships on Sunday.



Chairlift rides with strangers are almost always better than solo ascents. And snowblades are still not cool.Sports Writer Ian Cropp can be reached at 748-2935 or icropp@vaildaily.com.


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