South Shore snowboarders reach podium in Junior Worlds
South Lake Tahoe snowboarder Joanie Anderson is now a youth world champion.
The 16-year-old Sierra-at-Tahoe snowboarder finished first in boardercross Thursday in the Vodafone Snowboard Nations Junior World Championships at Cardrona Alpine Resort in Wanaka, New Zealand.
The Junior Worlds, which took place Saturday through today, is the highest level of competition for snowboarders in the U.S. Amateur Snowboard Association.
Anderson edged out Jana McLoed of New Zealand and Hilde Katrine Engeli of Norway, respectively, in boardercross.
In addition to her boardercross championship, Anderson also finished third in halfpipe and seventh in parallel giant slalom, which was good enough to take second place overall for an American youth competing in all three disciplines: boardercross, halfpipe and parallel giant slalom.
Heavenly Ski Foundation’s Elena Hight, 13, took home the highest combined honor for an American youth female, finishing runner-up in halfpipe, third in parallel giant slalom and fifth in boardercross.
“I knew she would do well, but to finish top five in all three events was a surprise,” said Heavenly snowboard coach Ed McClain.
“Obviously, I’m just so proud of her. That’s awesome,” said McClain of Elena’s top U.S. overall finish –Ecombined with her third-place finish in parallel giant slalom in “softboots.” Most of the riders wore double boots with a rigid plastic shell.
The third overall youth American was none other than Stacie Anderson, Joanie’s younger sister.
Stacie finished behind her older sister in halfpipe at fourth, behind Hight in boardercross at sixth and 14th in parallel giant slalom.
Together, with Nina Clark, of Aspen, Colo., the U.S. swept the top five posts in halfpipe with the exception of first place, given to Mero Narita of Japan.
The three South Lake Tahoe riders beat out snowboarders from 12 different nations, including powerhouses Norway, Germany, Australia, New Zealand, Japan, Croatia and Austria.
“It seemed like she was ready, her mindset,” McClain said of Hight’s performance. “It seemed like she was just as nervous about the travel as the competition.”
Brady Gunsch, Sierra’s snowboarding coach, was appointed to a post as a junior national-team assistant coach, and could not be reached in New Zealand for comment.
The riders plan to return Sept. 15.
The 2002 junior national team from USASA selected 33 snowboarders to compete in the competition.
The South Shore riders were three of the five youth women selected to compete.
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