Hookom, Klug lead U.S. Team into nationals | VailDaily.com

Hookom, Klug lead U.S. Team into nationals

Ryan Slabaugh
Special to the Daily/USSA U.S. Snowboard Team member Adam Smith races at a World Cup parallel giant slalom event in Holland earlier this season. Smith and teammates will be racing at Breckenridge today for the U.S. Alpine Snowboard Nationals.

The country’s best snowboard alpiners will convene at Breckenridge today for the U.S. Alpine Snowboard Nationals to decide the men’s and women’s national champions.

Held on Sundown run at 9:30 a.m. under the Beaver Run SuperChair on Peak 9, the Nationals will also conclude the snowboard alpine season.

“It’s kind of low-key, and it gives the competitors a chance to see where everyone else is at,” said Becky Wooley, the U.S. alpine snowboard team coordinator. “The season’s gone pretty good, though. The U.S. Team hasn’t had quite as many podiums as everyone would like to see, but we’re making the finals, which is what we have to do. If you look at the times, the guys are less than a second outside the winners.”

Some Americans are peaking at the right time. At the World Cup Finals in Bardonecchia, Italy, last weekend, American Chris Klug earned his first podium of the year with a third-place finish, which included a first-round win over 2001 World parallel giant-slalom champion Gilles Jaquet of Switzerland.

Stacia Hookom of Edwards also is looking to round out a fine year. The 2003 Grand Prix champion finished 10th at the World Cup Finals, and landed three wins at international races this season outside the World Cup.

Also leading the charge for the parallel giant slalom is 20-year-old Michelle Gorgone, who has blitzed onto the World Cup scene this season with six World Cup top-10 finishes, including her first career podium with a third at the Dec. 12 stop in Whistler, British Columbia.

All three athletes have found success racing in Summit County this year. At the Continental Cup at Copper Mountain in November, Klug took a first, Gorgone took a first, and Hookom enjoyed two top-5 finishes.

The event continues Sunday with a slalom event. Cash prizes will be awarded to both day’s winners, and the overall combined winner will be crowned the national champion.

Ryan Slabaugh can be contacted at (970) 668-3998, ext. 257, or at rslabaugh@summitdaily.com

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