South Shore riders praise IOC’s addition of boardercross |

South Shore riders praise IOC’s addition of boardercross

Chad Sellmer, Tribune staff writer

“I think everyone in the industry kind of saw it coming,” said Heavenly Ski and Snowboard Foundation coach Ed McClain of the recent announcement by Olympic officials that snowboardcross has been added as the third event in the Olympic snowboarding program.

The International Olympic Committee formally announced last month the addition of the popular boardercross — or SBX — to the 2006 Olympic program in Torino, Italy.

“We were waiting for word,” McClain said. “I’m really excited about it because it’s an amazing venue and a great spectator sport. I think the IOC made the right decision and I’m happy to see snowboarding finally getting the respect it’s due.”

SBX is held on a slope similar to a terrain park. Multiple riders take to the course, which includes single, double or triple jumps, rollers, banked turns, gates, tabletops and more.

Boardercross is an especially popular spectator and television event. Since 1997 it has been part of the International Ski Federation Snowboard World Championships and World Cup as well as the Winter X Games.

Snowboarding first appeared for the 1998 Winter Games in the Nagano, Japan, with halfpipe and giant slalom competition. In Salt Lake City in 2002 the program was changed, with parallel GS replacing the individual giant slalom.

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The U.S. has won several medals over the years, including both halfpipe golds in 2002. Seth Wescott of Kingfield, Maine, won the silver medal in boardercross in this year’s FIS Snowboard World Championship in Austria.

Jimmy Halopoff, also an HSF coach, hails the IOC’s decision to include SBX because it will open more doors for South Shore riders.

“I’m for it because I want to see Shaun Palmer win the gold medal,” Halopoff said. “He’s one of my mentors and I know he’d be the one to win.

“In the Olympics, they always back off from freestyle and put other kinds of events in there first,” he added. “I’m down for it in the Olympics, but I definitely think they should have slopestyle in there also.”

Rob Giustina of South Lake Tahoe is slated to assist U.S. athletes in qualifying for the Olympics in Italy. He will work with the FIS in a four-to-six stop U.S. qualifying series to advance to the World Cup in SBX.

“I think it’s great,” Giustina said. “It’s the first moto-inspired event to get into the Olympics so I think that part is huge. It’s much more exciting than dual GS because you have six guys running the course with jumps, bumps and berms.”