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Many boarders to cross

It’s charity with a blend of aggression that would make the average college alumni association pull a double-take:

All civic-minded snowboarders and skiercross racers need to do to help send a young rider to the USASA National snowboard championships is throw themselves into Sierra-at-Tahoe’s Gauntlet snowboard cross course Saturday. After all, chicks -and dudes – dig the nicks and scrapes from an afternoon of cross-team boarder battling even more when it’s in the name of charity.

“We’re hoping for more (participants), but probably a lot of the same – lots of grudge matches,” said Sierra spokesman and possible skiercross entry Ben McLeod.



Saturday’s snowboard cross is the second of two events Sierra added to the schedule to help its young snowboard team send its members to nationals. That means many of the racers who set last week’s fast times down the Gauntlet, like Chris Bergquist and Keelan Gardiner, will be back to defend in this weekend’s race.

“We’ve been doing the fund-raising just for that, actually,” said Sierra snowboard coach Nikki Warren, who helped guide eight of her young charges to nationals this season. “The fund-raising has been going great. We’ve had lots of community support.”



Saturday’s race will take entrants on a wild ride down a retooled Gauntlet. Groomers have been incorporating riders’ requests into the course, and reworked the bumps, jumps and berms on Tuesday. Warren and her troops have been training for next month’s nationals at Waterville Valley, N.H., and noticed the difference.

“It’s great,” Warren said. “There’s lots of whoops and turns and there’s a table top in the middle. It’s a really fast course – it’s lots of fun.”

Sierra anticipates a similar field to last week’s events, maybe bigger with the addition of another local snowboard team. Registration runs from 8-10:30 a.m., with practice runs available from 9:30 until the 11:30 start time. Entry into the snowboard cross costs $15, and the resort is offering discount lift tickets for participants. A raffle for entrants will follow the event.

“We’ve been working really hard,” Warren said. “They’ve been grooming super-late at night. There’s going to be lots and lots of prizes, so we’re super-stoked.”

On Sunday, Sierra will make up a kids cross event postponed from February, with the course to be determined.

BREAKOUT:

Sierra-at-Tahoe Skier and Snowboard Cross

March 11 podium finishes

Snowboard 14 and younger:

1. Jamie Anderson (Sierra)

2. Dane Young

3. Derek Brown

Skiers 14 and younger:

1. Kyle Kracht

2. Jake Baker

3. Trevor Tikioi

Snowboard men 15-19:

1. Matt Grover

2. Keelan Gardiner (Sierra)

3. Frankie Jones (Sierra)

Skiers men 15-19:

1. Jeremy Witter

3. Zoeh Heizelman

Snowboard men 20-29:

1. Chris Bergquist

2. Domi Chavarria

3. Casey Niccum

Snowboard women 17-29:

1. Erin Craig

2. Dondy Flack

Skiers women 20-29:

1. Lavon Shay

2. Sallyanne English

Snowboard men 30 and older:

1. Darren Stringer

Skiers men 30 and older

Ray Garcia

Sean Cummings

SIDEBAR:

hd: Heavenly crosses over with PalmerCross for skiers

If registration stays the same from the March 17 Swatch/Palmer-Cross at Heavenly Ski Resort, race officials can bank on twice the planks.

Heavenly continues its late-season race schedule with a Palmer-Cross for skiers. The event will send entrants down the same Palmer-signature cross course near Comet that nearly 75 boarders hit in the previous event.

“I think we’ve had a little more time to get the word out,” said Heavenly communications director Monica Bandows.

“We’ve never held a skiercross, actually – we’ve only held boardercross,” Bandows said. “This will be fun. Nowadays, the people who ride also ski, so you’re going to get more of a crossover.”

While the three Palmer-Cross events have started off small, Heavenly anticipates they’ll grow in the future. Bandows pointed to the resort’s sponsorship of the Bumps and Jumps event as an event that can grow from a local contest into one with an international flavor. While the resort hasn’t decided anything yet, the future looks bright.

“I think it’s something that we’ll do next year as well, and try to build up to one of those annual things,” she said.

Heavenly limits each day’s competition to 150 skiers or riders. The resort encourages preregistration with Heavenly’s race department ((775) 586-7000 ext. 96208) or at the Boardinghouse shop on U.S. Highway 50. First runs start at 10:30 p.m. Saturday, with registration and inspection taking place before.

The three-event mini-series wraps up March 25 with the invitation-only finals.


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