X-cellence | TahoeDailyTribune.com


Steve Yingling, Tribune sports editor
Elena Hight of South Lake Tahoe, Cal., competes in the women's superpipe final at the Winter X Games at Buttermilk Mountain outside Aspen, Colo., on Saturday, Jan. 30, 2010. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

Whatever the Winter X Games in Aspen, Colo., dishes out later this week, expect the South Shore’s contingent of competitors to be ready.

There is no shortage of experience and success at Winter X for Shaun Palmer, Jamie Anderson, Joanie Anderson, Elena Hight and Hannah Teter.

The fivesome has combined to win 22 X Games medals, including 10 gold.

“It’s great to see so many people from South Lake making it to X Games, and it’s great to be part of that group,” said Hight, an eight-year vet of the Games.

Joining them in the four-day winter extravaganza that starts Thursday are rookies’ Maddie Bowman and Trevor Ricioli.

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The 42-year-old Palmer has remained relevant in snowboarding competition longer than anyone. After nearly qualifying for the past two Winter Olympics, Palmer has stayed with the U.S. Snowboarding Team, competing in World Cup boardercross events. Palmer hasn’t won a Winter X gold since 2001, but possesses six of the area’s gold medals, including three straight in boardercross from 1997-99. He also took gold in snow mountain bike racing (1997), skier cross (2000) and ultracross (2001).

The South Shore’s best chance at adding to that golden haul is Jamie Anderson in slopestyle. Anderson won women’s slopestyle gold in 2007 and 2008 and has been on top of the sport for the past four years. She finished runner-up to Great Britain’s Jenny Jones a year ago and missed 2009 with injuries.

In 2007, Jamie and older sister, Joanie, became the only sisters to ever earn gold medals in the same year. Jamie comes into Aspen on a roll, having won both Winter Dew Tour events and the Burton European Open and O’Neill Evolution titles.

Despite a limited schedule the past several years, Joanie Anderson has remained a title contender at the X Games. She earned a bronze medal in 2010, three years after winning gold and was runner-up in 2006 and fourth in 2005.

“This will be my eighth X Games, and it’s such a fun event for me,” Joanie said. “I love being there, the course is always so well-made and so much fun to ride. It gets me all stoked and makes me want to do well.”

In a sport ruled by Lindsey Jacobellis, Joanie has stayed in medal contention by being prepared.

“I’ve been working out pretty hard, staying in shape. That’s the biggest thing with the X Games. The course is super long, so it’s important to be in shape,” she said.

Hight and Teter should be in the medal hunt in women’s snowboard superpipe. Teter, a transplant from Belmont, Vt., has collected five medals at the Games, including gold in 2004, and is a two-time Winter Olympics medalist.

The 21-year-old Hight scored a bronze medal in 2007 and was sixth last year. The two-time Olympian is tied with Kelly Clark for second place on the 2010-11 Winter Dew Tour’s overall standings after placing fourth in last weekend’s event at Killington, Vt.

Hight is excited about her chances in Saturday’s superpipe competition. With qualifying and finals all in one day, that leaves more time for preparation.

“There will be a lot of practice before the event, which is nice and will really help,” Hight said. “We’ll be able to get used to the pipe and get our tricks dialed in and what not.”

That familiarity and comfort could land Hight on the podium.

“I’m definitely shooting for the podium,” she said. “It’s totally a possibility. I’m getting my riding going, and hopefully that will become a reality on Saturday.”

Ricioli is making his first X Games appearance in skiercross after years of working toward an invite. The 25-year-old racer doesn’t plan to make a token appearance. After two podiums last week on the Hole Shot Tour, he might be one to watch.

“Some guys who have raced there before have a huge advantage, but I’m coming out of the shadows, and a lot of guys aren’t worried about me,” Ricioli said. “I can come out and do my own thing.”

Bowman, a South Tahoe High junior, is a last-minute addition in women’s skier superpipe field. The fourth-place finisher at the North Face Open was added to the skier superpipe field as an alternate. She’ll be among the first-day competitors on Thursday.

TV coverage begins at 9 a.m. Thursday on ESPN2. ESPN and ESPN 3D will also provide coverage of the Games. Women’s boardercross and superpipe finals are set for Saturday and men’s boardercross and skiercross finals are Sunday.

South Shore’s X Games entrants

• Trevor Ricioli, skiercross

• Jamie Anderson, slopestyle

• Joanie Anderson, boardercross

• Elena Hight, snowboard superpipe

• Hannah Teter, snowboard superpipe

• Shaun Palmer, boardercross

• Maddie Bowman, skier superpipe

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