European skiers pitch South Shore shutout |

European skiers pitch South Shore shutout

by dan thomas/tribune staff report

European skiers pitched a South Shore shutout, snapping up four of the six qualifying spots for the ESPN Winter X Games at Squaw Valley USA on Wednesday.

Two Swedish skiers, one Austrian and one French racer qualified for the four X Games qualifier spots in skiercross, and Americans grabbed the two women’s spots in the lone open qualifier for the X Games Feb. 3-6 at Mount Snow, Vt. Athletes can earn their way into the games through other routes, like performances in past X Games, but this week is the lone event where skiers and snowboarders can make this year’s games.

“We had a lot of Europeans, like five Swedes from their national team; two Austrians; four French,” said Chris Schuster of event promoter Global Event Management.

Jessica Sobolowski had the best performance among a handful of South Shore riders to compete in the skiercross. She was fourth, behind top qualifier Megan Brown, of Park City, Utah, and Coloradan Gale Gahlager, who was second. Axel Naglich of Austria won the men’s skiercross, ahead of second-place Peter Lind of Sweden, third-place Richard Gay of France, and Swedish racer Eric Andersson. Two women and four men qualify.

Wednesday’s event was the last chance for skiers to get to Mount Snow this year. Snowboarders have a shot today in the big air competition at Squaw. The top three big-air riders of each gender earn spots in the X Games. According to GEM, the only South Shore rider who registered for the big air event was Grant Faulkner of Stateline.

“We’re officially closed, but a lot of people haven’t checked in,” said Todd Barber of GEM.

The schedule for big air begins at 9:30 a.m. today with practice. Qualifying runs follow from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., and wraps at 1:30 p.m. Friday. Schedules may change to accommodate weather.

“The weather is really kind of putting a wrench into stuff, so we’ll see what it does,” Barber said.

While no South Shore skiers earned their spots in the X Games on Wednesday, Tahoe athletes have made a strong showing in the games. Snowboarder, skier and mountain bike downhill racer Shaun Palmer, a South Lake Tahoe native who lives in Meeks Bay, owns a gold-medal sweep in boarder cross in all three years of the event.

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