Meghan Tierney eyes second Olympic Games snowboardcross selection
Eagle resident finished 6th at recent World Cup designated tryout event in Italy
Fully grasping where an Olympic snowboardcross hopeful presently stands in regards to the U.S. Ski and Snowboard qualification criteria almost requires a law degree. The complex combination of objective and discretionary criteria is laid out, but for 2018 snowboardcross Olympian Meghan Tierney, figuring out the document isn’t on her radar.
“I try not to look too much into it,” Tierney said to the hometown journalist looking to avoid paging through section 1.2.5b yet again.
“You know everybody keeps asking me that, like ‘How’s it going and what are the criteria?’ I try to not pay attention to that,” Tierney said. “I just try to do the best I can and go from there.”
The mindset has served the Ski and Snowboard Club Vail alumna well as she closes in on the final qualifying competitions for the 2022 Beijing Olympics. Striving for a second nomination, Tierney placed sixth at the Cervinia stop Dec. 18, the third of five designated tryout events for Team U.S.A.
“I think that the course suited my riding style, and I kind of just went in with the mindset of just trying to do the best that I can and not put so much pressure on myself,” she said about the marked improvement from the first two events, where she was 18th and 28th, respectively.
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Having her family and boyfriend in Italy was a helpful bonus.
“It was awesome to have them out there — I think that helped as well,” she said, noting that the familiar faces didn’t bring any extra pressure. “I wish that they could come to Russia with me next,” she said.
The Krasnoyarsk World Cup on Jan. 8 and Jan. 9 are the final two qualifying races. According to 1.3.C of the qualification criteria, the U.S. will select up to three athletes in the following order:
First, athletes must be ranked within the top six of the rankings. They will then select up to the top two highest ranked athletes, per gender.
Second, the third quota slot, or any remaining unfilled slots, “will be allocated based on an athlete having at least one top three result in the identified Tryout Events,” according to the criteria.
If no athletes have at least one top three result in those events, the process shifts to discretionary selection procedures.
After the first two tryout events, no American met the second criteria either. In Italy, the only athlete to place in the top three was Gulini. Thus, the final two spots to be claimed are still up for grabs and can be secured by a podium finish in Russia.
Tierney isn’t calculating the math but remains satisfied focusing on what she can control.
“I’m just going to do the best that I can and hope I make it,” she said.
If she does land in China in February, it won’t be the first time she’s been on the course. The first World Cup stop Nov. 26-28 was at the Olympic venue, the Secret Garden, in Zhangjiakou.
“I really liked the course,” Tierney said. “Unfortunately, I didn’t do as well as I had hoped. It was definitely a lot safer than the one in Korea.”
She noted that for viewers back home, the design of the 1253-meter course, with just 167 meters of vertical drop, is sure to keep things close, as it did this November.
“I think it (Secret Garden) keeps more people together so it’s kind of a tighter race — so more interesting for viewers,” Tierney said.
While Swiss Olympic medalist Beat Feuz told ESPN in late November that he had heard discouraging reports from ski cross teammates in China, saying one teammate “had not yet been able to leave his room,” and “these are difficult times,” Tierney seemed unfazed. While she noted a definite strictness and caution from officials, it wasn’t worth dwelling upon.
“It was fine,” she said. “We weren’t really able to do anything outside of working out and snowboarding, but we’re not really there to adventure around anyway, so I felt like my experience was a good experience.”
Tierney’s holiday break is about as hectic as the sport she competes in. She flew into California three days ago, drove all the way to Eagle to spend two days with her family, and heads out for a cross-country drive to North Carolina tomorrow. It isn’t a World Cup stop, in case you’re curious. She’ll be in the Tar Heel state to pick up a new Dutch shepherd puppy named Blueberry before swinging down to Alabama for the holidays.
“I’m really looking forward to that — I’ve wanted to get a dog for so long,” Tierney gleefully exclaimed, noting that her boyfriend is in charge of potty training, since she’ll fly out to Russia on Jan. 2.
“He’ll be in charge of training her and then when I come back, she’ll be trained,” she chuckled.
And if things go well, Blueberry will “sit, stay and come” for a two-time Olympian.