Langely McNeal plays it safe, wins green jacket and silver medal
February 14, 2012
This time mom’s loaner worked out to perfection.
When American ski cross racer Langely McNeal crossed the finish line at Saturday’s U.S. Grand Prix, she pumped her right fist over and over again.
It was redemption.
Following her controversial wardrobe disqualification at this year’s Winter X Games for wrapping elastic bands around a pair of bell-bottoms borrowed from her mother during competition, McNeal went back to mom for a loaner this weekend, but this time she made sure her race pants were legal.
And they worked out as the Sun Valley, Idaho, native sped across the finish line in second place in a rough-and-tumble final that featured two significant crashes on the testy race course at Canyons Resort.
"Nothing actually has felt this good for a while in ski racing," she said. "I’m really, really, really happy right now."
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McNeal’s second-place finish secured a $5,000 purse, which she said will go toward travel expenses, training and ski maintenance.
"I’m in one piece," she said. "I can’t ask for more."
Canadian Marielle Thompson emerged victorious in the women’s skier cross final after Swiss skier Katrin Mueller, who led for the majority of the final race, wiped out.
"It’s sweet to have another win here in North America, because we don’t have that many opportunities," said Thompson, a native of Whistler, British Columbia. "I tried to keep my own line, stay tight and going into the rollers, my pole touched (Mueller), and I thought, ‘Oh, she’s really close.’
"It’s kind of shocking, but I’m really happy."
A ski-cross race consists of four racers blasting out of the gate at once, then racing down a specialized course with icy curves and soaring jumps.
Thompson’s gold was her second in two weeks. The 19-year-old also won a World Cup at Blue Mountain in Ontario last week.
Saturday was a good day for the Canadians as Christopher Del Bosco, reigning Winter X Games champion, won the men’s ski-cross final. Fellow Canadians Brady Leman (silver) and Stan Rey (bronze) completed the all-Maple Leaf men’s podium.
"It was fun to have my teammates in the final," Del Bosco said. "We’ve all been skiing pretty well. I think that’s the first time we’ve had three (Canadians) in the final. It’s a pretty good day for us."
Del Bosco said he was having trouble in his early heats, but he managed to overcome his struggles out of the gate.
"A lot of events, basically you win the start, you have a pretty good shot of winning that heat," he said. "Here, it’s pretty technical."
Following one week off, the Canadians get back to business in Germany for five races in a two-week span.
"This part of the season, middle to end, I really start to find everything starts coming together," he said. "We have a pretty long season. I’m excited, I’m glad we came."
American Joe Swensson finished sixth in the men’s Grand Prix while former X Games ski-cross champion John Teller failed to qualify after a crash in his semifinal heat.
While the Canadians stole the show on the podium, it was McNeal who walked away with a green U.S. National Champion jacket, a silver medal, and a bounce-back performance after heartbreak at X Games.
"I really wanted this," she said. "I left the bell-bottoms at home."