USA dominates SBX qualifiers
Seth Wescott made it to Park City just in time for the Sprint U.S. Snowboarding and Freeskiing Grand Prix snowboardcross qualifiers on Thursday at Canyons Resort.
Unfortunately for the two-time Olympic gold medalist, his luggage, including his boarding equipment, never made it back from Russia.
With no time to practice and riding on a new board, Wescott struggled during his first run. But, after making a few corrections, he raced his way to the third-fastest men’s qualifying time.
"Nothing has showed up since Russia and we’ve been back for 11 days," he said. "But whatever, it’s all good. I’m stoked."
He qualified for today’s finals behind fellow Americans Nate Holland and Alex Deibold, who finished first and second respectively.
Wescott is hoping things return to normal by race time.
"Hopefully my bags show up and I can get on my normal race board," he said.
He’ll need every advantage he can get on a tough Canyons course against competitors from countries like Canada and Australia.
"You have to do good out of the start here because there’s not a lot of passing opportunities," he said. "It’s awesome to ride by yourself, but it’s pretty narrow for racing with four."
Deibold agreed, saying starting position will be vital on Saturday.
"It’s definitely a narrow course and I think passing is going to be a challenge," he said. "You’re only going to be able to make a pass if someone makes a mistake."
After being in Sochi for an Olympic test event, Wescott said he’s happy to be back on a colder course.
"It was a little bit of a junk show," he said of the Russian course. "We had one good training day. The jumps were literally falling apart and there was super high water content in the snow."
Deibold saw things differently.
"I thought the Sochi course was one of the best courses I’ve ever ridden," he said.
However, the two riders did agree that better weather would be nice for the 2014 Winter Olympics.
"Going into next year, I hope Mother Nature cooperates and it’s a little bit colder," Deibold said.
"If it’s 10 degrees colder next year, it will be awesome," Wescott added. "The potential for the hill is really good."
As for today’s race at Canyons, Deibold said he hopes the lighting is a bit better.
"It was challenging because of the visibility," he said. "The flat light came out today and made it harder to see."
Team USA riders Trevor Jacob and Robert Minghini finished fourth and fifth respectively.
On the women’s side, Faye Gulini of the U.S. posted the two fastest qualifying times of the day.
During Wednesday’s skicross qualifiers, American John Teller had the fastest men’s time and Ophelie David of France won on the women’s side.
Today’s snowboardcross finals will begin at 11:30 a.m. The skicross finals were held on Friday, after this issue went to press.
Steele DeWald has his life in Park City down to a routine. After some strange encounters in his 20s, he’s OK with the mundane.