Vans victory enables boarder to pay off debt |

Vans victory enables boarder to pay off debt

Tribune Staff Report

The prize money was so good that one Vans G-Shock Triple Crown of Snowboarding competitor was able to win his way out of debt Sunday at Sierra-at-Tahoe.

Yes, Lael Gregory executed a huge backside 540 and a switch Cab 720 to grab first place in the men’s halfpipe finals.

“I’m speechless,” said Gregory, who didn’t remain that way for long. “The competition was amazing and I’m an extremely fortunate person today. I’m stoked that I’m out of debt.

Gregory edged Austria’s Max Plotzendeer and Norway’s Daniel Franck to earn the first prize of $10,000.

Minna Hesso won the women’s halfpipe with tricks like her frontside 540 and backside 360 to take home $7,500 for first place. Catherine Nieves and Stine Brun Kjeldaas finished second and third, respectively. South Shore’s Kritie Elder, who was eighth in qualifying, finished 18th.

On Friday, Mark Schulz edged Phillipe Conte and Jason Brown to win an intense men’s boardercross. Schulz received $10,000.

Brady Gunsch of South Lake Tahoe was 25th.

In the women’s boardercross, Marguerite Cossettini outdueled Bibian Mentel and Alessia Follador to claim the $7,500 first-place check.

The big air finals, a fan favorite, were played out on a festive Saturday at Sierra.

Kurt Wastell banked $10,000 for first place by making his switch backside rodeo 720 pay off.

Scotty Wittlake and Doran Laybourn placed second and third, respectively.

Tara Dakides dominated the women’s finals by pulling off a backflip melon grab. She earned $7,500. “The event was awesome, the music was loud and the crowd was stoked on the big air, so it made me push myself even harder,” Dakides said.

The first stop on the Vans G-Shock Triple Crown of Snowboarding circuit took place in Breckenridge, Colo., on Dec. 4-6. The series concludes March 25-28 in Switzerland.

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