Yamada, DeLeRue lead Vans qualifying | TahoeDailyTribune.com

Yamada, DeLeRue lead Vans qualifying

Steve Yingling

Marni Yamada finished eighth in the recent Winter X Games boardercross, but she did something Thursday she’d never done before: win the time trials in the Vans Triple Crown boardercross at Sierra-at-Tahoe.

“I was just lucky or something,” Yamada said. “I’ve been in a perfection mode and haven’t been very good in boardercross lately, so I was kind of hoping something would happen.”

Yamada picked a good time to be away from her hometown – Seattle – which experienced an intense earthquake Wednesday.

“I wish I was in the earthquake,” said Yamada, whose friends and relatives came out of the 6.8 quake OK. “I got so many calls yesterday.”

Boarders dealt with table tops, rollers, gaps and jumps in their single heats, with the best of their two runs counting.

Thursday’s top 24 men’s and women’s qualifiers advanced to Friday’s finals.

Aimi Xistras, 24, of South Lake Tahoe slipped under the qualifying line, coming in 21st place with a time of 55.08 seconds.

“At least I’m in the finals. That’s a good first move,” Xistras said.

Xistras’ time could have been faster but her left knee is less than 100 percent after tearing an ACL last year. As a result, she checks her speed while jumping.

“It still feels funny so I wear a brace. I figure by next year I’ll be 100 percent,” she said.

While most teens would have been out of their league and unprepared for the Vans competition, 14-year-old Joanie Anderson of the South Shore fit right in.

Anderson qualified well within the parameters, finishing 14th.

“She’s rippin’ it,” Xistras said. “There’s a no-fear factor at 14.”

On the men’s side, Xavier DeLeRue continued his series-long dominance. France’s DeLeRue, who won the first two boardercrosses of the series, led qualifying with his blazing 42.19 run. Drew Neilson of Canada was .75 back.

Olympic Valley’s Brandon Stieg qualified 15th in 44.82.

Sierra-at-Tahoe snowboard coach Brady Gunsch nearly made the cutoff, placing 34th in 46.43.

Friday’s finals start at 11:15 a.m.

American Jason Tittle was seriously injured after crashing during the men’s competition. He was airlifted to Washoe Medical Center in Reno, where he was listed in serious condition in intensive care Thursday night.

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