US snowboard cross racers make history
The first-ever mixed team snowboard cross World Championships event went well for the U.S., with Mick Dierdorff and Lindsey Jacobellis taking home gold in the new event.
Of course, the competitors may have had a bit of a home-field advantage, as the U.S. team uses Park City, Utah, as their winter home away from home. The competition took place on Solitude Mountain Resort’s Main Street run.
The mixed team format pairs one man and one woman, both from the same country, in a relay race where each woman’s run begins when their respective teammate crosses the finish line. Team snowboard cross racing will make its Olympic debut in 2022 in Beijing.
“It was really great to be teamed up with Mick,” Jacobellis said. “It feels great to come back a couple of days later after the women’s competition, back on the top of the podium with another World Cup title, and to have Mick along with me.”
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One of the biggest surprises of the non-team snowboard cross event at the World Championships on Friday was the elimination of Jacobellis.
Another bungle in the team event, not at all her fault, had Jacobellis thinking she might be leaving Park City empty handed. During the second semifinal run, her gate failed to drop as Dierdorff crossed the finish line, causing the women to rerun their portion of the heat.
“I’m used to being first in team events so it was a little nerve-wracking waiting for the gate to drop,” Jacobellis said. “And then (after the malfunction) I definitely over-gripped a little and had some trouble getting out of the start on the rerun. I was really happy to turn that around and execute.”
Then when it came to the team event finals on Sunday, Dierdorff didn’t exactly put Jacobellis in the best position to win.
Technically, she was in the worst position. After doing well in the quarter- and semi-finals, Dierdorff crossed the finish line last in the men’s half of the big final.
“My goal in this event, of course, was to try to be first to give Lindsey as big of a gap as possible,” Dierdorff said. “That worked out for the first two runs, but then in the big final, it just didn’t go my way. At first I had this gut-wrenching feeling. But then I was like, wait, I have the greatest snowboarder of all time, Lindsey Jacobellis, there on my team. I think that almost made it more exciting, to have the task ahead of her of going from fourth to first in the final run. It shows what a badass rider she is.”
Jacobellis is the most dominant snowboard cross athlete, man or woman, in the history of the sport.
With the team snowboard cross win, Jacobellis’ results now include a record-setting six World Championship titles.
The conditions were difficult on Main Street run on Sunday.
Significant snowfall demanded an early wake up call for Solitude Mountain Resort course crews, who were out before dawn to shovel and smooth the course in time for the scheduled 11 a.m. start.
Snow continued throughout the competition, providing the athletes with conditions completely different from Friday’s individual races.
“It was a totally different style of riding from Friday,” said bronze medal finisher Paul Berg, of Germany. “You don’t want to edge too hard. You try to find one line where you don’t lose too much speed in the turns. It was way gnarly because you had to pump everything.”
Dierdorff was able to perform well under both types of conditions, as he also won the individual event on Friday. With the team win Dierdorff, who calls Steamboat Springs home, now has two World Championship medals in his trophy case after never having reached a World Cup podium before.
“You have those little spurts of brilliance, that’s what keeps me going,” he said.
This story contains material from a U.S. Ski & Snowboard press release.
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Jeff Shiffrin, with his wife, Eileen, made the Vail area their home decades ago, and together raised Mikaela and Taylor Shiffrin, who was a member of the two-time NCAA Champion University of Denver Ski Team.