TELLURIDE, CO (Dec. 17) – Two-time Olympic champion Seth Wescott (Sugarloaf, ME) charged every heat Friday, giving the crowd at Telluride Resort an edge of their seats performance with his second-place finish at the Visa U.S. Snowboardcross Cup. Though it was the third SBX World Cup of the year, it was Wescott's first since the Olympics, marking only the eighth podium of his tenured snowboarding career.
"I kinda remembered what I was supposed to do," Wescott joked." For me it was a good confidence builder to know that I was right there. It has been 10 months and two days since the Olympics, since I did a race."
While the champ appeared to be totally in control and on top of his game, according to him, his legs were telling a different story.
"I'm dead. I didn't do a lot of physical training this summer, so it was all just riding. I had to rely completely on my skills and nothing physical. I could feel every run," Wescott said.
His skills were evident as in he narrowly passed quarterfinals, finishing behind reigning World Champion Markus Schairer and inches ahead of his Austrian Michael Haemmerle. He finished in the lead for semifinals and was in the lead for a majority of the final run before some challenging rollers enabled France's Pierre Vaultier to edge him out by a hair.
"Inside turn six I opened the corner a little bit and Vaultier snuck inside, but I had more momentum so I got back out of turn seven,"Wescott said. "All week I had been seeing him pump the triple set in the bottom and I hadn't tried pumping it. It was one of those things where I knew if I popped the triple he would get by me. So I tried to do the double suck but I did a double and knuckled it."
But, regardless of the close call, Wescott was excited to start his season out successfully and in a place he considers to be his second home.
"Telluride has just rolled out the red carpet for us the past three years and I just love it here. To be able to be here and enjoy the week ad cap it off with something like this is great for me to kick off the season like this," Wescott said.
Wescott led the way for two other U.S. athletes into the top 10 with Jonathan Cheever (Saugus, MA) finishing sixth and Alex Deibold (Manchester Center, VT) in seventh.
On the women's side U.S. teammates Lindsey Jacobellis (Stratton Mountain, VT) and Callan Chythlook-Sifsof (Girdwood, AK) took the lead in the day's small final finishing fifth and sixth respectively.
Canadian Dominique Maltais won, making her the only woman to win on the World Cup tour this season thanks to her two victories from Italy.
The day was an important milestone for Chythlook-Sifsof, marking her best finish since the 2007 season, after which she encountered an injury and challenges. Now, she says, she feels amazing about where she is headed.
"I've struggled a bit in the last year with some pressure, but I've just had a great summer and I feel on top of my game 100 percent,"
Another thing that helped, according to the Alaskan, was the course, which was designed by famed Olympic designer Jeff Ihaksi.
"The whole setup is really fun and I enjoy it a lot. It was smooth and you didn't have to think about trajectory a lot. You could just let it run and I had a lot of fun with it," Chythlook-Sifsof said.
The fun in Telluride continues Saturday with the Paul Mitchell Team Snowboardcross race. Team SBX takes two athletes and teams them. Team member one starts the race, and once he or she crosses the finish line a sensor is triggered that opens the start gate for teammate two.
First team at the bottom of the course wins the competition, which will be making its inaugural appearance at World Championships later this season.
Sprint will be adding a fan element to the mix. Fans at the race can send in their pictures of epic moments in Telluride to www.sprintepicmoments.com and have the chance to win a free phone from Sprint.