Melinn qualifies for boardercross semis |

Melinn qualifies for boardercross semis

Richard Chittick
Vail Daily/Bret HartmanFans and crew take a break during the first day of competition at the Winter X Games VIII in Aspen. Qualifying was held on Friday, and the first finals will be held today.

ASPEN – With the first qualifying or preliminary round held at the Winter X Games VIII in Aspen on Friday, Copper Mountain Freeride Team’s Dena Melinn became the first Summit County athlete to advance.

The boardercross rider finished her qualifying round with a time of 1 minute, 9.883 seconds to finish 15th and earned a spot in the semifinals, which begin Sunday at 2 p.m.

Karine Ruby of Chamonix, France, set the best qualifying time in the event with a time of 1:00.571.

Friday was a day devoted to whittling down the fields for several of the competitions.

To go with women’s boardercross, the men’s boardercross qualifiers were held along with the men’s and women’s skier cross qualifiers. Men’s and women’s snowboard slopestyle and the women’s snowboard superpipe preliminary rounds were also held Friday.

Breckenridge Freeride Team Member Todd Richards missed the top 10 of men’s slopestyle and won’t be heading into the finals.

Richards was visibly upset with his final slopestyle run, in which he fell on the final hit of the course. But within an hour he put it behind him and started thinking ahead to Sunday night’s superpipe prelims, in which he is also competing.

“I really relaxed too much,” he said about his spill. “I would have liked to have done well.”

But as far as his superpipe competition, he said, “I know how to win one. So I need to do the tricks I know how to do.”

Results for Vail’s Barrett Christy were not available as of press time.

Megan Pischke of Vail also competed on Friday afternoon, finishing the women’s slopestyle preliminary round in 19th place.

Only the top 10 in slopestyle advance to the semifinals. Marc Frank Montoya, a Denver native, had a stunning second run during the slopestyle prelims to move up to sixth place after finishing the first run just outside of the top 10.

“This is like a little vacation,” said the snowboarder afterwards. Montoya now lives in Salt Lake City and is using his time in Colorado for the X Games to visit friends and family.

“I love rolling back to Colorado.”

Aspen’s Chris Klug also stepped up, advancing to the men’s boardercross finals by finishing 24th with a time of 1:00.680.

Most of the heavy favorites in each event advanced during Friday’s rounds, including Danny Kass, Shaun White, Kelly Clark and Tara Dakides in slopestyle, and Marco Huser and Yvonne Mueller in boardercross.

This is Dakides’ first appearance at the X Games in two years after she sat last season out with a knee injury. Joining Dakides on the comeback track is X Games veteran Shaun Palmer.

Palmer, who has won multiple gold medals in both the summer and winter versions of the event finished the boardercross qualifiers in 16th place and will advance to the semifinals.

Competitions begin today with the women’s snowboard slopestyle final at 10 a.m. Medals will also be handed out by the end of the day for men’s and women’s skiercross and women’s snowboard superpipe.

Competitors dig changes in venue

ASPEN – The venue for Winter X Games VIII in Aspen has a different look this year.

Not only is the superpipe located much closer to the base area of Buttermilk Mountain, but the slopestyle and cross courses have been flip-flopped.

Breckenridge Freeride Team Member Todd Richards said: “It’s probably the best pipe I’ve ever ridden. It’s unbelievable.” Richards will be competing in the superpipe competition with prelims beginning on Sunday night.

According to Stiepock, in order to put the superpipe in its new location, a foundation for it was dug out of the slope to facilitate construction.

The addition of nighttime events is a direct result of the effort to broadcast live, Stiepock said.

In order to bring the exposure of the event up, the network decided that airing events in the primetime slots of today and Sunday night was


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