Vano’s six golds leads Tahoe national prowess |

Vano’s six golds leads Tahoe national prowess

Steve Yingling

As the popularity of snowboarding soars, so is the South Shore’s success in the sport.

Three South Shore snowboarders won overall titles in the United States of America Snowboarding Nationals last week in Telluride, Colo. Overall, the South Shore brought home a whopping 43 medals.

Donna Vano led the medal haul by bringing home six gold medals and one silver in the legend (ages 40-49) division.

“I certainly accomplished more than I dreamed of at this one. I’m just thrilled to death,” said Vano, who earned six silver medals at last year’s nationals. “I wanted to bring home gold for the community and hopefully to inspire other ladies and gentlemen to get involved in USASA.”

Vano swept the freestyle events, winning the halfpipe and slopestyle. In Alpine competition, she was first in GS and runner-up in slalom. In addition, Vano was the overall champion for freestyle and Alpine events, making her the overall champion.

Not bad for someone who competed with a broken arm and a broken pinkie finger. The latter injury occurred before her final event, the halfpipe, when she was struck by a snowboarder in the pipe.

“That really shook me up, but I just had to keep my focus and realize I could still do this. Amazingly enough, it all worked out,” she said.

When Vano wasn’t topping the podium, she was busy cheering on the area’s other top snowboarders. Like Vano, Sanae Iljima of South Lake Tahoe and Stacie Anderson of Tahoe Paradise also claimed overall titles and a slew of gold medals.

In the masters 30-39 class, Iljima won gold medals in the halfpipe and slopestyle, took silver in the slalom and bronze in the GS. She earned gold as the overall freestyle champion, bronze in Alpine overall and gold for overall (freestyle and Alpine).

Anderson capped her first year of snowboarding with five national gold medals. Competing in the 8-9 grommet division, Anderson was first in the halfpipe, GS, overall freestyle, overall Alpine and overall. She was runner-up in slopestyle and third in slalom.

“We rule,” Vano trumpeted. “I can’t tell you how proud I am of these kids. It was hard for me not to well up every time I saw one of our kids get up on that podium.

“I think we have some incredible athletes and a tight group of family and friends who really stick together and help each other so much,” Vano said.

In one of the more moving events of nationals, Joanie Anderson of Tahoe Paradise was awarded the menehune 10-11 overall gold by a fellow competitor. At the awards banquet, Devon Sutherland of Corona, Calif., donated her overall gold medal to Anderson because “even though Joanie was disqualified in her slalom race, she was the best and deserved the award.”

Vano said the tears flowed freely after that demonstration of sportsmanship.

“There wasn’t a dry eye in the house. That was really cool,” Vano said.

Joanie Anderson was competitive throughout the week, taking first in slopestyle, GS and overall freestyle and second in halfpipe.

Other gold medalists from the South Shore were Coral Warren, slopestyle, grommet 8-9; Elena Hight, slalom, grommet 8-9; and Dustin Singler, slopestyle and freestyle overall, junior 16-17. Warren was in the medal picture throughout, taking silver in slalom, GS, overall freestyle, overall Alpine and overall and bronze in halfpipe. Hight claimed silver in the halfpipe and bronze in slopestyle, overall freestyle, overall Alpine and overall.

Jared Palant seized three medals fresh off his participation in the Junior World Snowboarding Championships in Switzerland. Palant, 17, was second in slalom, second overall Alpine and second overall for juniors (16-17). Palant’s performances were bumped up a place when it was discovered that one of the medalists didn’t have U.S. citizenship.

“I was happy with how I did in the slalom, but I would have liked to have done better in the rest of the events,” said Palant, who was fourth in GS, 10th in slopestyle and 13th in halfpipe.

Other local highlights included Rocky Allen, pro-am open class, fifth in slalom, ninth in GS and fifth overall Alpine; Kevin Cain, 8-9 grommet, seventh in halfpipe and ninth overall freestyle; Timothy Honick, senior 23-29, fifth in slalom; Aaron Hernandez, youth 14-15, fourth in halfpipe, ninth overall freestyle and 16th in slopestyle; Stephanie Warren, women’s jams 18-22, seventh in GS, eighth overall Alpine and 10th in slalom; and Katrina Clap, youth 14-15, 12th in slalom and 13th in GS.

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