X Games has plenty of South Shore flavor | TahoeDailyTribune.com

X Games has plenty of South Shore flavor

Steve Yingling, Tribune sports editor

For some Winter X Games participants, the 14th celebration of winter action sports that begins Thursday doesn’t have its customary rock-concert feel in Aspen, Colo.

After all, the Winter Olympics are only a few weeks way in Vancouver, and they only come every four years.

However, not all X Games events have been included in the Winter Olympics program, so for athletes such as South Lake Tahoe’s Jamie Anderson, this is the highlight of their seasons.

Anderson missed last year’s X Games due to hip and pelvis injuries, but is back with intentions of winning a third women’s slopestyle title. Anderson tested her hip last year at Winter X but elected to pull out of competition.

“I tried to ride the last two days, but the hip just didn’t feel good,” Anderson told The Associated Press.

The 5-foot-3 Anderson has picked up where she left off last year by winning Winter Dew and U.S. Snowboard Grand Prix slopestyle events in the past month.

The 19-year-old Anderson is also on the invited list for the women’s superpipe.

Women’s slopestyle qualifying is Friday, and finals are set for Sunday.

South Lake Tahoe’s Hannah Teter and Elena Hight are also entered in the women’s superpipe competition. Hight and Teter are part of the U.S.’s four-member women’s halfpipe team heading to Vancouver.

Hight has won a Winter Dew Tour stop and finished runner-up in a Grand Prix event at Mammoth heading into Winter X. She’ll likely need to put together back-to-back 900s to break into the top three. Former gold medalist Kelly Clark has been on it in 2009-10, winning four of five Grand Prix events, and Gretchen Bleiler and Torah Bright are former X Games winners.

“I’m really excited for X Games this year, knowing that I’m going to Vancouver is pretty exciting,” Hight said. “X Games is a really fun event and should be a good time.”

Teter, the 2006 Winter Olympics gold medalist, has enjoyed four podiums at Winter X but hasn’t won the event since 2004.

Women’s superpipe qualifying is Thursday, and the finals are scheduled for Saturday night.

Lake Tahoe boardercross riders will be included in the pre-event hype as three-time men’s champion Shaun Palmer of South Lake Tahoe and four-time defending champion Nate Holland of Squaw Valley are entered. Palmer, who has six Winter X titles all-time, hasn’t won the event since 1999 but finished fourth in 2007.

Bobby Minghini of South Lake Tahoe and Pat Holland of Tahoe City have also been invited to compete in the action-packed event that starts Friday with qualifying and concludes with finals on Sunday.

In the women’s boardercross, 2007 winner Joanie Anderson of South Lake Tahoe is expected to compete. Anderson will be making her seventh appearance at Winter X, and also has a runner-up finish in 2006 to her credit. The women’s finals are on tap for Saturday.

Truckee’s Daron Rahlves will be gunning for his second X Games title in skiercross. He’ll go through qualifying on Friday, with finals unfolding on Sunday.

ESPN and ESPN2 will provide live and taped coverage from Thursday through Sunday’s events.

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