No denying the ‘Palm’
They still haven’t shut out Shaun Palmer from taking home gold from the Winter X Games.
The multisport extreme athlete from South Lake Tahoe teamed with Japan’s Hiroomi Takizawa to win gold in the ultracross Saturday in Mount Snow, Vt.
The win made up for a disappointing 12th-place finish in boardercross Thursday when he crashed while leading a semifinal heat.
“Never has there been an X Games where I didn’t win a gold medal, so I’m glad I could pull it off and go home with a gold,” said Palmer, who now has six gold medals in five appearances at the games.
Jason Evans of Vermont and Austria’s Isidor Gruener combined for the silver medal, while 42-year-old Matt Murphy of Big Sky, Mont., joined forces with Sweden’s Pontus Staahkloo for the bronze.
Whenever Palmer and Takizawa found trouble, they picked up each other in the relay-style format.
In their first race, Palmer pulled off one of his patented hole shots in the snowboarding portion of the relay to build a seemingly insurmountable lead. However, Takizawa lost control in the skiing leg and was passed by Zach Crist. But Takizawa held on to second – the final qualifying spot – to put the team in the semifinals.
Takizawa repaid Palmer for their near elimination in the semifinals. After seizing the hole shot again, Palmer fell on the bottom of the course. But Takizawa rallied the duo by finishing behind Evans and Gruener to make the final.
The finals went off without a hitch for Palmer and Takizawa. Palmer rocketed out of the gate for the lead, which the duo never relinquished.
The rest of the field wasn’t expecting any handouts, which have plagued Palmer in most-recent races. Palmer crashed at the end of the Red Bull Ultracross last month at Squaw Valley, costing his team first place, and a late-race wipeout in the finals cost him a gold medal in boardercross last year in the Winter X Games.
“It’s not a good feeling,” Evans said. “He didn’t make any mistakes.”
“I’m really happy that we pulled it off,” Palmer said. “We held it together, which is really important in an event like this since it’s such a crapshoot.”
Palmer, however, still is looking up at Truckee snowboarder Kevin Jones at the X Games. Jones won his ninth career medal at the games by repeating as champion in slopestyle on Friday.
The 26-year-old has an even distribution of golds, silvers and bronzes in his nine-medal collection.
But Jones’ third career gold didn’t come easily as he overcame Todd Richards of Encinitas, Calif., by a point with his score of 89.67.
“There are just too many good riders. You almost have to kill yourself to win with all of there here,” Jones said.
Jones, however, didn’t medal in Sunday’s big air event. He was fifth, and Ben Hinkley, also of Truckee, was close behind in sixth.
Chiara Lawrence of Olympic Valley led women’s skiercross qualifying on Thursday, but settled for a medal other than gold for the second straight year. Lawrence finished third as Aleisha Cline of Sun Peaks, B.C., Canada, won the gold.
Janez Demsar of South Lake Tahoe came in ninth in the men’s skiercross, while North Shore’s Bill Hudson, a former World Cup competitor, placed fourth.
Shannon Dunn, a part-time resident of Tahoe Vista, was runner-up to Jaime Macleod in the women’s slopestyle Friday but took the next step by winning superpipe on Saturday.
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