Freeriders big winners again as weather delays Triple Crown finale |

Freeriders big winners again as weather delays Triple Crown finale

Sierra-at-Tahoe’s big-powder freeriders again were the big winners Sunday as weather delayed the final events of the Ford Ranger North American Snowboard Championships.

Three feet of fresh snow at Sierra on Sunday was much better for the riders who didn’t have to compete than the pros in the final event. Officials delayed the final halfpipe of the Vans G-Shock Triple Crown snowboard series until today, when training runs begin at 10 a.m.

“There was so much snow in the pipe, they couldn’t clear it to run both the males and females within the daylight hours,” said Ryan Snyder of event promoter SNL Communications.

The halfpipe finals, which take place in the mammoth Superpipe at the bottom of Sierra’s Lower Main run, are the final events in the championships and the Triple Crown series. Not only is the final $50,000 of the $200,000 Triple Crown prize purse at stake, but the halfpipe finals will settle the overall men’s and women’s Triple Crown individual championships. Individual finishes in the series – which started in December at Breckenridge, Colo. – earn riders points toward the overall titles. The male rider with the highest combination of points in his disciplines – halfpipe, slopestyle, big air or snowboard cross – wins a Ford Ranger pickup truck, while the overall female champ wins an all-expenses-paid Hawaii vacation for the Vans Triple Crown of Surfing.

Friday’s and Saturday’s final snowboard cross and final slopestyle event helped settle the standings, but nothing is final until today. The halfpipe is the last chance for freestyle riders of national renown, like Vermont’s Ross Powers and Todd Richards, of Breckenridge, Colo., to lock down the championship.

Austria’s Ine Poetzl, who won Tuesday’s women’s snowboard cross – a makeup event for the January Triple Crown event at Mount Seymour, British Columbia – stayed in contention with a third-place finish in Friday’s final cross race. She finished behind Norwegian racer Line Oestvold and second-place Carlee Baker. Leslee Olsen of Bend, Ore., was fourth, ahead of Seattle’s Marni Yamada.

In the men’s snowboard cross, Christoph Maierhofer knocked favorite Philippe Conte – Tuesday’s winner – off the podium for the first time this season. Seth Wescott of Kingsfield, Mass., was second in the snowboard cross, ahead of Bertrand Denervaud of Fribourg, Switzerland; Mark Schulz of Welches, Ore.; and fifth-place Xavier Delerue.

The women’s slopestyle was the last to go as planned the week, with Jamie McLeod of New London, N.H., beating out podium finishers Katrina Warnick and Brittani Scheefer of Frisco, Colo., to win $6,000. Vancouver, B.C.’s Natasza Zurek and Truckee’s Jessica Dalpiaz just missed the podium, finishing fourth and fifth, and taking home $800 and $700 of the $12,500 women’s pot, respectively.

The men’s slopestyle riders settled matters more democratically: When weather threatened the finals, the men decided to distribute their $18,000 prize purse equally and replace the finals with a free-form jam session in the slopestyle park. Rahm Klampert, of Killington, Vt., had the best qualifying run, ahead of Jason Borgstede of Eagle River, Alaska; Daniel Migneault, of Baie Comeau, Quebec; Swiss rider Gian Simmen; and fifth-place Victor Lowren.

The Triple Crown series will end the suspense with a second awards ceremony after the halfpipe honors.

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