Melinn, Larsen shine at Boarderfest |

Melinn, Larsen shine at Boarderfest

CRESTED BUTTE – Dena Melinn had to bow out of the big mountain competition last weekend at the ninth annual U.S. Extreme Boarderfest, but Jewels Larsen picked up the slack for Summit County.

Melinn, a member of the Copper Mountain Freeride Team, was having a career-affirming week at the Crested Butte contest. She won the boardercross on Wednesday and was second in the triple air on Thursday. She was set up for a run at the overall title in the three-event Boarderfest but decided to help out a friend instead of competing in the weekend big mountain contest.

“I was going to, but my good friend (injured) her knee, so I had to take her home,” Melinn said. “I had a good shot at the overall, but it’s OK. I’m pretty happy with how I did.”

So it was up to Larsen to represent Summit County, and the Arapahoe Basin rider did it well. She won the big mountain competition Sunday after a three-year hiatus from the event. Larsen won at Crested Butte in 2000 but since then has been going to the Extreme Freeride Contest in Verbier, Switzerland, instead. The two events usually overlap, but not this season. Larsen, sponsored by Unity Snowboards, leaves Monday for Verbier, where she has finished second, third and fourth. The contest is March 22.

She hopes the confidence gained from her near-flawless runs on the steeps and rocks of Mt. Crested Butte’s Spellbound/Phoenix area will put her over the top at Verbier.

“It was a really big personal thing for me,” Larsen said of the win. “I like to really push myself, and I didn’t want to settle for second best. I rode 100 percent of what I’m capable of.”

Larsen said the competition level in the female big mountain ranks has improved since she last won the Boarderfest.

“The girls have really stepped up,” she said. “I was psyched to see it.”

Clif Dimon of Crested Butte won the men’s title for the third straight year.

It was Melinn’s fourth and most successful year at the competition. She won the boardercross in 2000 and was second in 2001, when she won the triple air. Last season she had an off year but came back with a vengeance last week.

“I’ve had a good history there,” she said. “It’s been lucrative for me, so I try to get down there every year.”

Melinn pocketed $1,500 for the boardercross win and $1,000 for second place in the triple air, which is a slopestyle run minus the rails. She gave up the possibility of another $500 and a five-night Club Med trip by choosing to take her friend – New Zealand native Julie Alach, who is spending the season in Summit County – back to the county after Alach injured her knee in the boardercross.

“It was tough,” Melinn said. “I can do it next year is how I look at it. Maybe it wasn’t meant to be for me this year.”

Melinn’s boardercross win has her thinking about a run at the 2006 Olympics in Italy. Boardercross was recently named an Olympic event, and Melinn’s win at Crested Butte (and her ninth at this year’s Games) proves she has a shot at making America’s inaugural Olympic boardercross squad.

Other locals who competed at Crested Butte are Drew Chambers, C.J. Marsh and Breckenridge riders Jeff Nelson, Matt Peterson and Julie Lavicka. Nelson was third in the men’s triple air, and Peterson was fifth. Lavicka was third behind Melinn in the women’s triple air.

Marni Yamada of Seattle and Dimon won the three-event overall titles.

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