Bleiler, Czeschin win Lake Placid pipe
LAKE PLACID, N.Y. – American snowboarders continued their international dominance Saturday as Olympic silver medalist Gretchen Bleiler from Aspen and 2002 Olympian Tommy Czeschin of Mammoth Lakes, Calif., won the 2006 State Farm U.S. Snowboard Cup halfpipe in Lake Placid, N.Y.”It feels good, this contest has been fun just practicing and working on tricks,” Bleiler said.
Her winning run included a crippler 540 into a backside 540 indy to a frontside 540 to a backside air and frontside 720. The run earned Bleiler 47.3 points to best second place finisher Manuela Laura Pesko of Switzerland by 4.7 points. Poland’s Paulina Ligocka was third followed by Minturn’s Clair Bidez and Tricia Byrnes.”I’m just super excited to work on my tricks for the rest of the season, rather than just competing, competing, competing,” Bleiler said. “The Olympics were absolutely the highlight of my season, but I’m happy to slow down a bit.”In between training days, Bleiler also took time to soak up some additional Olympic flavor by taking a bobsled ride at Mt. Van Hoevenberg, the 1980 Olympic venue.
Following two days of off and on rain, thousands of fans enjoyed a sun-drenched afternoon and pipe gurus took a step back to watch riders boost out of the Bear Superpipe.”They did such a good job,” added Bleiler. “Our first day of practice, the pipe was a little iffy and it was difficult to ride. The next day it was really fun and the rain softened it up. But they did an excellent job cleaning it up and today it was really smooth – definitely the best it’s been all week.”Czeschin was also ready to take a break from riding in order to regroup after the grueling qualifying series.
“I took tons of time off after the Grand Prix series and I really just came here to ride, but I’m so stoked that I ended up winning,” Czeschin said after a first-run score of 44.1 points. “I haven’t had a victory lap in while, so that was really great. It’s cool here in Lake Placid. I was here over five years ago for the Goodwill Games and it was good then, but it’s even better now.”Czeschin’s run included a frontside 720, to a cab 720 to a frontside 900 into a backside 540, a lein air capped by a backside 720. Also in the final was Steve Fisher from Breckenridge, who qualified first, but ended the day in seventh. Rounding out the men’s podium was Jan Michaelis of Germany, who finished third at Whiteface one year ago, and Takahiro Ishihara of Japan.Sunday’s snowboardcross event, which was to wrap up the weekend’s festivities at Lake Placid, was canceled after Swedish rider Jonatan Johansson died when he crashed during a training run Sunday.Vail, Colorado