U.S. riders Czeschin, Teter win pipe finals
BRECKENRIDGE – Americans Tommy Czeschin and Hannah Teter kept the U.S. Snowboard Team’s train going on Sunday, sweeping a talented international field in the superpipe finals at the Chevrolet U.S. Snowboard Grand Prix opener at Breckenridge.But the similarities between their wins ended there. For Czeschin, the victory was his first in two years, a statement of sorts that one of the world’s best riders, contrary to some popular belief, has not fallen off the map. For Teter, the win was just another in a string so long she has trouble recalling when it began.In addition, although Teter won easily, putting together the top two runs of the day and beating fellow Vermonter Kelly Clark’s second-place score by five full points, Czeschin barely edged out Jackson Hole’s Travis Rice.With the $10,000 first-place prize on the line, Czeschin came through in the clutch to put together the cleanest run of the day and edge Rice’s second-run effort by a scant .3 points, 46.00-45.70.The 25-year-old winner from Mammoth Lakes, Calif., said it came down to simple stoke.”Last year I rode a lot and kind of got a little burnt out,” said Czeschin, a 2002 Olympian whose only other Grand Prix win also came at Breckenridge, in 2002. “This year I’m psyched to ride again. I’m having a lot of fun.”The versatile Rice, who was named the 2004 snowboarder of the year by Snowboarder and TransWorld Snowboarding magazines, nearly stole the show less than 18 hours after he won $5,000 at the Paul Mitchell Progression Session rail jam under the lights at the Riverwalk Center.He didn’t decide to enter the pipe competition until two days before it began, and said he only did so because the snow in Jackson Hole hasn’t been great. But his smooth second run put him in the lead under a fading afternoon sun and blustery conditions, with just Czeschin and first-run leader Justin Lamoureux of Canada to go.Alas, Czeschin’s statement performance was just enough to edge Rice, who spends most of his time riding powder and making movies. And Lamoureux couldn’t do better than his first-run 45.20, so the winner’s check went to Czeschin.According to U.S. Snowboard Team halfpipe coach Bud Keene, it wasn’t so much a surprise as it was a reflection of Czeschin’s changed attitude.
“We had a camp in New Zealand in September, and right off the bat I could see a new fresh focus and a new commitment and a new stoke to ride,” Keene said of Czeschin, a 10-year national team veteran. “It’s continued right through the fall and into today.”Americans Andy Finch and Ross Powers rounded out the top five, followed by Germans Jan Michaelis and Xaver Hoffman. Breckenridge Freeride Team rider Steve Fisher, who qualified first on Saturday, finished a disappointing ninth despite consistently boosting higher out of the pipe than any other rider and executing a clean second run that scored only 40.80.”I’m very disappointed,” Fisher said of his second-run score. “I thought it was a pretty good run, but I guess it’s pretty hard for the judges to see with the sun in their eyes.”Others were surprised with their finals scores, as well, including the runner-up Rice. After wrapping up his second run, Rice hung around at the bottom of the pipe but hardly kept an eye on the scoreboard to see where it would put him. When the 45.70 flashed, his friends grabbed his arm and pointed and gawked at the number. Rice threw up his hands in disbelief.”I was blown away,” Rice said. “I wasn’t expecting that.”Still, as Canadian rider Dan Raymond said, “Sometimes it’s not the biggest runs that win. Sometimes it’s the cleanest.”Either way, it wouldn’t have mattered in Teter’s case. The 17-year-old phenom launched almost five feet higher on her jumps than any other women’s rider, and never slipped up.Her first-run 41.50 assured her the win even before she took her second trip down the 18-foot-high pipe and used a perfectly executed 900 to improve by four points.Fifteen-year-old U.S. Snowboard Teamer Elena Hight was third behind Clark, followed by Aspen’s Gretchen Bleiler and Japan’s Soko Yamaoka.Sunday’s victory was Teter’s fifth in the last six Grand Prix events she’s entered.Asked afterward the last time she didn’t win a contest in which she competed, Teter said, “I don’t know. I guess last season sometime.”
Said Keene, “Hannah is just full-on pushing the sport.”Minturn’s Clair Bidez, a Team Summit product in her first season on the national team, endured a frustrating day and finished eighth. She crashed in both runs while executing frontside 720s near the end of her run. Her board hit the lip of the pipe both times, in nearly identical spots.”It’s really frustrating, especially because 7’s are usually a stock trick for me,” Bidez said.Notes: Among the top tricks thrown on Sunday were Hugo Lemay’s backside switch 720, Hoffman’s 1260 and Lamoureux’s switch method air … Abe Teter, Hannah’s older brother, lost control near the bottom of his first run and collided with a pair of spectators at the bottom of the pipe. Nobody was injured … The Grand Prix continues today with the parallel giant slalom. Finals are scheduled for noon on Peak 9’s Sundown.Devon O’Neil can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (970) 668-3998, ext. 231.Final resultsMen1. Tommy Czeshin 46.002. Travis Rice 45.703. Justin Lamoureux 45.20
4. Andy Finch 42.905. Ross Powers 42.906. Jan Michaelis 42.807. Xaver Hoffman 42.308. Hugo Lemay 41.609. Steve Fisher 40.8010. Brad Martin 37.9011. Vinzenz Lueps 32.6012. Luke Wynen 31.2013. Christophe Schmidt 29.3014. JJ Thomas 29.0015. Abe Teter 28.80
16. Keir Dillon 28.20Women1. Hannah Teter 45.202. Kelly Clark 40.203. Elena Hight 39.604. Gretchen Bleiler 38.705. Soko Yamaoka 37.506. Tricia Byrnes 34.007. Naho Mizuki 29.408. Clair Bidez 19.80
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