‘Palm’ enhances chances of going to Olympics
BAD GASTEIN, Austria – Snowboarding legend Shaun Palmer of South Lake Tahoe officially tossed his name into the Olympic hat Wednesday by claiming second in a World Cup boardercross.
Leading for most of the final race, ”The Palm” made a minor mistake, allowing Canadian Drew Neilson to slip by for the win. It was the 37-year-old Palmer’s first career World Cup podium.
Xavier Delarue of France and Austrian Mario Fuchs filled out the top four.
Whether it’s snowboarding, motocross, mountain biking, or Cadillac collecting, there isn’t much that Palmer hasn’t mastered and now he wants an Olympic medal.
After dominating the X Games from 1997 to 2001, winning six gold medals, Palmer faded out of professional snowboarding. But when the Olympics welcomed boardercross into the program, Palmer wanted in. Wednesday’s top-four World Cup result was just the ticket he needed to solidify his status as an Olympic Team contender.
The No. 1 criteria for making the U.S. Olympic SBX Team is a top-four World Cup result. Tie-breaking criteria used to select team members are highest 2006 World Cup finish, second-highest World Cup finish and highest world ranking.
Palmer’s previous-best World Cup finish was 17th on Dec. 8 in Whistler, British Columbia.
The 5-foot-9 Palmer tried to make the Olympic halfpipe team in 2002 when the Winter Games were in Salt Lake City but was unsuccessful.
World champion Seth Wescott of Farmington, Maine, was the next-best American in seventh place.
Leslee Olson of Bend, Ore., was the top American woman, finishing sixth. Another Canadian Dominique Maltais won the event, placing ahead of Olivia Nobs of Switzerland, Austrian Manuela Riegler and Canadian Maelle Ricker. Marni Yamada of Seattle was the only other American competitor, placing 35th.
Action continues today from Bad Gastein with a second boardercross. The team will be named Jan. 21 at the final stop of the Chevrolet U.S. Snowboarding Grand Prix in Mountain Creek, N.J.
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