National Champions crowned at Meadows

U.S. Boardercross Nationals bring Olympic hopefuls to Mt. Hood Meadows

December 21, 2005

A few weeks ago, the country’s first-ever U.S. Boardercross National Championship was scheduled to take place at Snow Summit Mountain Resort in California. Due to lack if snow down south, and an abundance on Mt. Hood, U.S. Snowboarding officials decided to move the championships to Mt. Hood Meadows Ski Area. With about two weeks to prepare for one of the largest snowboarding events in the nation, Meadows pulled off without a hitch what resort managers are calling the biggest-caliber event in resort history.

Male and female snowboarders from countries across the globe — including Canada, Japan, Austrailia, Sweden, Switzerland and Austria — traveled to Mt. Hood to compete on Friday for the chance to qualify for the upcoming Winter Olympics, the first U.S. National boardercross title and a $15,000 purse.

After a full day of racing, Bend native Leslie Olson took the women’s division and Graham Watanabe, of Sun Valley, Idaho, won the men’s. The two took home $4,000 checks, the title of National Champion, and a place in the upcoming European World Cup races, which act as Olympic qualifiers. Boardercross will make its Olympic debut this winter.

Thanks to Mt. Hood’s copious snow supply, Meadows’ groomers and event staff built the race course to the maximum defined dimensions; meaning, quite simply, the course was as steep, as long, as technical and as gnarly as was allowed. When combined with the Friday’s sunny but crisp weather — nearly perfect for holding up course conditions — the stage was set for an extreme and radical race to determine the best of the best in a newly-emerging global sport.

“We are very proud of our event staff, under the leadership of Mike Hubert, and our grooming staff, run by Jason Stankevich,” said Dave Tragethon of Mt. Hood Meadows. “The event went fantastic. The ability of our entire staff to pull off such a great event in such little time really made a statement to U.S. Snowboarding. Of course, we also have to give credit to the weather.”

The course started near the top of the Vista Chair lift and finished within walking distance of the lodge, just above the Super-pipe. Between the starting gate and the finish line, riders negotiated — at break-neck speeds — rollers, a step-up, drops, single- and double-banked corners, steeps and table-tops. The object is simple: get down the course as fast as possible without wiping out. Although intentional contact is not allowed, riders taking each other out is not uncommon on a boardercross course. Probably the worst wreck Friday was when rider Jonatan Johansson, of Sweden, was forced wide around a steeply-banked corner. He caught the safety fence at the top of the embankment and rag-dolled over the fence and out of the course.

Johansson walked away from the crash. According to Tragethon, other than some scrapes and bruises inherent to such a sport, there were no major injuries.

A field of about 100 riders started in Friday morning’s qualifier rounds. Each rider got two trips down the hill alone, with the best of those runs as their qualifier time. The fastest 16 women and the fastest 32 men qualified for the final rounds, which is when the action really picked up.

In the finals, an air of tension filled the starting gate. Camera crews got their close-ups, then panned wide to capture the summit, then back to the action as four riders at a time were sent careening down a steep starting section toward rollers, a table-top, a giant step-up and a banked corner that dropped abruptly out of sight. The key is to get the hole-shot and lead from the opening stretch, as passing on a boardercross course is risky business.

About half way down the course the trees kept shade on several banked corners, which kept the snow solid and chattery. This was the most treacherous and technical section of the course, as Johansson discovered the hard way. The final stretch straightened back out and took riders over one final table-top before the finish line, where a cohort of friends, family, fans and camera crews congregated to tunes bumping from speakers mounted on a massive and awesomely-ugly Red Bull-mobile resembling a creation from the Mad Max and the Thunder Dome era.

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Parkdale third graders sing "12 Disaster Days of Christmas"

Welcome to your sing-able Christmas gift list. What follows is an emergency rendition of “12 Days of Christmas” – for outfitting your home or car in case of snow storm, earthquake, flood or other emergency. Read it as a simple list, or sing it to the tune of “12 Days” – you know, as in “ … and a partridge in a pear tree…” Not to make light of it, but the song is a familiar framework for a set of gift ideas that you could consider gathering together, even if the recipient already owns items such as a bunch of coats, tire chains and flashlights. Stores throughout the Gorge are stocked up on all these items. Buying all 12 days might be prohibitive, but here are three ideas for checking any of the dozen off your list (notations follow, 1-12.) The gift items needed to stay warm, dry and safe are also coded to suggest items in your abode (A) in your car (C) or both (B). 12 Gallons of Water (A) 11 Family meals (B) 10 Cans of propane (A) 9 Hygiene bags (B) 8 Packs of batteries (A) 7 Spare coats (B) 6 Bright red flares (C) 5 Cozy blankets (B) 4 Tire chains (C) 3 Flashlights (B) 2 cell phone chargers (B) 1 And a crush-proof first aid kit (B) Price ranges? Here’s a few quotes for days Three, Two, Four and Nine: n A family gift of flashlights (three will run $15-30, Hood River Supply, Tum-A-Lum) n Cell phone chargers (two will run $30-60) n Tire chains (basic set, $30, Les Schwab, returnable if unused for the winter) n Family meals ($100 or so should cover the basics for three or four reasonably well-fed days) n The home kit should be kept in a handy place near an exit, and remember that water needs to be replenished every few months. If you have a solid first aid kit already, switch out the gift idea with “and-a-sto-o-u-t- tub-for it-all …” Otherwise, it’s a case of assembling your home or car kits and making sure all members of the family know what the resources are and how to use them (ie flares and propane). Emergency situations are at worst life-threatening, at best deeply uncomfortable if you and your family are left without power for an extended period, or traveling and find yourself in a situation where you need to wait out a storm, lengthy traffic delay, or other crisis. Notes on the 12 gift ideas: 12 – Gallons of water: that’s one per person in a four-member family to last for three days, the recommended minimum to be prepared for utility outages. 11 – Easy-open packaged goods, energy bars, dried food and nuts are good things to include for nutrition. Think of what your family of four needs for three days to stay fortified and hydrated (see number 12). Can-opener also recommended 10 – If you have a propane camping stove, keep extra fuel handy. 9 – Hygiene bags: put packaged moistened towelettes, toilet paper, and plastic ties in large garbage bags (for personal sanitation) Resource list courtesy of Hood River County Emergency Management, Barbara Ayers, manager/ 541-386-1213. The county also reminds residents to Get a Kit, Make A Plan to connect your family if separated, and Stay Informed. See to opt-in for citizen alerts. Enlarge

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