North Shore’s McConkey wins skiercross qualifier |

North Shore’s McConkey wins skiercross qualifier

MOUNT SNOW, Vt. – ESPN’s fourth annual Winter X Games launched Wednesday with qualifying for the men’s and women’s skiercross events.

The real test for the Skier X athletes, however, will come today.

During the qualifying runs the men and women went down the Exhibition Run one at a time. During the final heats at noon today, the skiers will go down six at a time. In a crowd, the combination of speed, skill and caution becomes even more crucial.

The weather conditions for Wednesday’s qualifying runs were both frigid and sunny. Shane McConkey of Squaw Valley won the men’s qualifying round, finishing his run in 44.596 seconds. South Lake Tahoe native and Meeks Bay resident Shaun Palmer finished second (44.807) and Bill Hudson took third (44.976). The top 24 men qualified for today’s final heats.

Other men who qualified for today’s final include South Shore skiers Janez Demsar and Mike Dill; Sweden’s Sverre Liliequist and Tomas Andersson, and Richard Gay of France – skiers who earned an X Games slot during the Jan. 16 skiercross qualifier at Squaw Valley USA; Eric Archer, Tomas Andersson, Chris Davenport, Zack Crist, Emil Englund, Isidor Gruner, Peter Lind, Eric Andersson, Enak Gavaggio, Kaj Zackrisson, Todd Kelly, Jeremy Nobis, Lois Koidl, Matt Murphy, Josh Loubek and Stephane Tchiknavorian.

Defending skier X champion Aleisha Cline finished second (49.163 seconds) in the women’s qualifying, just behind Asia Jenkins (48.949). Cline has extra reason to be careful today. The British Columbia native broke both arms and dislocated her shoulder in a mountain bike accident last summer. She had major shoulder surgery just two months ago.

“I’m confident, but at the same time, I’m really cautious,” she said. “I

really don’t want to get injured again.”

Cline also said she will try not to let any fear of further injury get in the way of any potential success.

I’m scared to death,” she said. “If I just attack it, I know I’ll be OK.”

Patti Sherman-Kauf, of Edwards, Colo., who finished sixth in the women’s qualifying (51.750), likes the six-skier format for the finals.

“If you have one racer, even on TV you can’t tell how fast they are,” said Sherman-Kauf, who finished third last year in skier X. “It’s different, but it’s exciting for the sport.”

Chiara Lawrence qualified third among the women. The other female qualifiers included Anik Demers, Carolyn Skyer, Missy Giove, Noel Lyons, Gale Dahlager, Dawn McShinsky, Steph Turner and Kat Sweet.

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