Poetzl, Conte too slick for snowboard cross competition
It wouldn’t be unfair to say the O’Neill/Santa Cruz team riders started the North American Snowboard Championships on Tuesday by waxing the competition.
O’Neill’s podium-topping tandem of Austrian rider Ine Poetzl and Frenchman Philippe Conte credited the team’s tech crew with the correct setup as both riders cruised to snowboard cross wins at Sierra-at-Tahoe. While weather forced event officials to postpone Tuesday’s big air competition, the make-up board cross started the final chapter of the three-event Vans/G-Shock Triple Crown of Snowboarding.
Poetzl, who strengthened her contention for the overall women’s triple crown title with her second win of the season, said the first rider through the first set of banked turns on Sierra’s Gauntlet snowboard cross course was pretty sure to win. She did just that, getting out quickly and holding off the field.
“It was hard to pass in the little berms,” said Poetzl, who also was first in the Breckenridge board cross that kicked off the series.
“Today, I wasn’t so fast at the start, but I think (the difference) was my wax,” she said. “My wax was perfect.”
Maybe it’s no coincidence the same crew that set up Poetzl set up the men’s winner, Conte. He also was quick out of the gate, and left no doubt there would be two green-and-white O’Neill suits atop the podium. Conte picked up $10,000 for his win and Poetzl $7,500 of the total $45,000 prize money available in Tuesday’s snowboard cross.
“If you were first at that first banked turn, you had 90 percent of the race,” said Conte – who also made himself a favorite in the overall competition, drawing even with Vermont’s Ross Powers. “Tech made the difference there – my board was faster than the others.”
Series riders earn points for the same finishes in different disciplines. Powers won the first halfpipe competition in Breckenridge, then pulled ahead of the cross and big-air specialists with a win at Mount Seymour, British Columbia, when weather forced officials to postpone the second event. But Conte’s second win in as many tries in the snowboard cross pulled him even on Tuesday.
The overall championship isn’t just another laurel, though: The male rider with the highest points total after three events wins a new Ford Ranger pickup truck, the top female rider overall an all-expense-paid trip to Hawaii and the Vans Triple Crown of Surfing. The system favors riders who not only can compete but can excel in many disciplines. But Conte likes his chances of holding off Powers.
“I would say that it’s easier to win three boardercrosses in a row than three halfpipes in a row,” Conte said. “I would say I’ve got more of a chance to get it than Ross.”
The prize for the women’s championship looked especially lucrative Tuesday. Officials moved the next-to-last boardercross, the makeup from Mount Seymour, to an earlier time slot and postponed the big air for a day because of fog and falling snow. After strengthening her position, Poetzl looked to be relishing the chance for a trip to Hawaii.
“I hope it’s not in December or some time we have a race, because then I couldn’t go,” she said.
The finals for the Triple Crown series continue today with the big air practice, qulaifying, and finals from 10 a.m. – 3 p.m. on the Aspen run’s kicker. The big air event is the final makeup event for Mount Seymour, while the official Sierra events kick off with training for the final snowboard cross of the season. Riders will train on Sierra’s second board cross course, on the Sleighride and Broadway runs, from noon-4 p.m.
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