Squaw Valley’s Holland earns World Championship bronze
LA MOLINA, Spain – Lindsey Jacobellis (Stratton Mountain, Vt.) led the U.S. charge, winning her third career World Championship gold as the USA landed three of six boardercross medals Tuesday.
Seth Wescott (Sugarloaf, Maine) and Nate Holland (Squaw Valley) also landed on the podium with silver and bronze.
Holland was second in every heat as he advanced to the finals. In the semifinals he was matched up with Italy’s Luca Matteoti, with the Italian taking the heat win. However, the big final was a different story with Holland finishing ahead of Matteoti for the final podium step.
“I have X Games coming up and that’s definitely a major focus of mine,” said Holland of the Winter X Games in Aspen, Colo., Jan. 27-30. “I came out healthy and I’m going to enjoy this podium. I look forward to defending my title at X Games.”
After qualifying second for the finals, Olympic silver medalist Jacobellis was on fire out of the gate nailing all of her starts. As soon as she pulled out of the gate, it was no looking back as she grabbed the hole shot – taking all heats on her road to the finals.
“My plan was just to be top-two and advance because I haven’t been getting to the finals in my last couple of races. Making finals was definitely my first goal and getting out ahead was my second,” said Jacobellis of her strategy heading into the finals. “I was getting the hole shot and doing the first rhythm section really well. I was out in front and wanted to hold my ground giving me the option for every line I wanted to have.”
Jacobellis did just that, holding her ground to launch an impressive undefeated career on the World Championship snowboardercross stage. Jacobellis was all about the “big shows” between 2005 and 2007, earning an Olympic silver medal in 2006 and World Champs gold in both 2005 and 2007. But she skipped 2009 Worlds in Korea and was thrown low on a corner in Vancouver and went out in the finals. It had been a four year wait for a global medal outside of the X Games, where she earned her third consecutive gold in 2010.
“This summer I went to California to work out and set up a new camp. That was something kind of out of the ordinary, but I figured that was the time to try it out and see if that was something that could work in the offseason. I had a lot of fun,” explained Jacobellis, who found herself back on top after experimenting this summer with the new training regime. “I surfed a lot and I think that’s been helping my starts. I’ve been a lot more active out of the gate, when in past races it took me a bit to get going. Having that advantage right off the bat and not having to fight through the pack is a huge advantage.”
With the win, Jacobellis is tied with the late Karine Ruby of France for the most World Championship victories with three.
“It’s definitely a great accomplishment to be marked there with Karine,” said Jacobellis. “She was definitely someone known in the sport of snowboarding so it’s good to give her that recoginition as well.”
In the men’s race, Australia’s World Cup leader Alex Pullin was crowned champion, while the USA swept second and third. Two-time Olympic champion Wescott earned his fourth career World Championships medal – the most of any boardercross rider, while six-time X Games champ Holland picked up his second bronze.
“At the start I looked across, we (Wescott and Holland) were at opposite ends of the gate and I yelled ‘shake n’ bake Wescott,'” said Holland. “We’ve done this so many times, and it’s always a pleasure to ride with him and shake n’ bake.”
Wescott battled hard with Pullin in both the quarterfinals and semifinals trading spots with the Aussie taking the quarterfinals and Wescott the semifinals – both advancing to the big final. In the end, Pullin took charge dominating the finals run and crossing the finish first. Wescott’s silver puts him one ahead of France’s Xavier de le Rue in career medals.
“Basically this was a repeat performance of what the Team did at the 2007 World Champs. Nate and I were on opposite sides of the bracket,” said Wescott of meeting teammate Holland in the finals. “It’s really cool to have the whole team do well. It was super positive and fun. It was awesome to have the team walk away with half of the medals.”
Americans Jonathan Cheever (Saugus, Mass.) and Alex Deibold (Manchester Center, Vt.) also qualified for the finals. Deibold was placed in Wescott’s first heat and had the hole shot with Wescott following before getting bucked by the final turn to finish 26th. Cheever advanced to a tough semifinal heat consisting of eventual winner and runner-up, Pullin and Wescott. Cheever finished eighth.
Tuesday’s race marked the fourth time that the USA has swept fifty percent of the SBX medals since the event originated in 1999. The 2011 FIS World Snowboard Championships continues Wednesday with the men’s and women’s parallel giant slalom.
FIS World Snowboard Championships REsults
At La Molina, Spain
Jan. 18 Boardercross
1. Alex Pullin, Australia
2. Seth Wescott, Sugarloaf, Maine
3. Nate Holland, Squaw Valley
Other American results
8. Jonathan Cheever, Saugus, Mass.
26. Alex Deibold, Manchester Center, Vt.
1. Lindsey Jacobellis, Stratton Mountain, Vt.
2. Nelly Moenne Loccoz, France
3. Dominque Maltais, Canada