Olympians ride Vans into Lake Tahoe | TahoeDailyTribune.com

Olympians ride Vans into Lake Tahoe

Steve Yingling

Jim Grant/Tahoe Daily Tribune Elijah Teter, above, and his sister Hannah are competing with the U.S. team in Chile this week.

Expect Elena Hight to be a lot more relaxed this weekend in the Vans Cup at Tahoe than she was several weeks ago in Torino, Italy.

The 16-year-old felt overwhelmed as one of the youngest Olympians at the 20th Winter Games, even though her results didn’t reflect that. Hight finished sixth in the women’s halfpipe.

“I didn’t realize what I was getting into until I was there,” Hight said. “The Olympics were so much more than I expected. It all hit me once I got there, going to the opening ceremonies, the media and practice. Everything is so big and elaborate.

“I didn’t place as well as I wanted to, but I had a lot of fun and I was pretty happy with how I rode. Everything was all good. I think I will be a lot more prepared for the experience if I get to go in four years.”

Hight, a runner-up last year at Northstar, will have plenty of local company this weekend as the Anderson sisters, Joanie and Jamie, will compete as will Jimi Tomer and the Teters, Hannah, Abe and Elijah.

Some of Hight’s U.S. teammates haven’t competed since the Olympics, so Sunday’s superpipe extravaganza at Northstar-at-Tahoe could be wide open. Hight left halfway through the Winter Games and competed in Japan, where she earned a third-place podium.

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All of the top names, with the exception of Lindsey Jacobellis, Antti Autti and Andy Finch, are expected to compete in the three-day invitational, which starts today with an evening rail jam. Hight doesn’t think the $203,000 purse was a big factor in drawing the sport’s stars to Northstar. Five of the six halfpipe medalists from the Winter Games are entered. Finch (injured foot) is the only American Olympian not expected to compete.

“This is what we do. We all love it,” Hight said. “We had a little time off and got time to chill and hang out with the family, and now it’s time and go and keep doing contests and have some more fun.”

Boardercross is Joanie Anderson’s preferred discipline, but the Tahoe Paradise rider likes to mix it up in the pipe as well. She finished 14th in superpipe at the Winter X Games in January.

“It’s a bit of an honor competing with all of the top names, because a few made the Olympics and they’ve been doing it for a while. It’s nice to not place that big in the pipe and still be invited,” Joanie said. “I wish I had more training behind me and I’d definitely be more confident.”

Joanie’s stellar season includes a silver medal in slopestyle at the Winter X Games and third place in Jeep King of the Mountain last Sunday at Squaw Valley.

While Joanie doesn’t expect to finish in the superpipe money, she said she wouldn’t be surprised if younger sister, Jamie, 15, landed on the podium in Saturday’s slopestyle.

“She’s been killing it,” Joanie said. “All of the girls traveling around to the slopestyle contests are in their 20s and Jamie’s at the same level as them and doing the same tricks. She’s really putting herself out there.”

Jamie won the Chevrolet Grand Prix slopestyle at Mount Bachelor, Ore., and was third in the discipline at the Winter X Games.

The top male in superpipe receives $20,000, while the No. 1 woman earns $17,000. The prize money is slightly higher for the men in slopestyle with $22,000 going to first place and the top female getting $17,000.

Joanie said Thursday’s snowstorm kept competitors from training.

“The jumps weren’t clearable and I didn’t go throught the pipe because it was snowing so hard,” she said.

Superpipe practice is from 9 a.m. to 2:45 p.m. today and 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday. Women’s qualifying on Sunday is at 9:30 a.m. and the finals begin at 1:05 p.m. Men’s qualifying starts at 10 a.m. Sunday and finals go off at 2:25 p.m.

Slopestyle competition commences at 9:30 a.m. Saturday, with the women’s and men’s finals unfolding back to back starting at noon. Admission is free.