Nagano bronze medalist hoping for gold in 2002

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— A lot can change in four years new competition, new tricks and a new location.

And, 1998 Olympic medal winner Shannon Dunn is hoping to add a new medal to the list of changes in the 2002 Olympic snowboarding competition.

"I'm going for gold," the bronze medal winner in Nagano's halfpipe event said.

On December 15, Dunn, a former Steamboat resident, will begin her quest to earn a spot on the U.S. team in the first event of five competitions needed to qualify for the Olympics. The top two scores in the five selected events, which will come from the Chevy Truck U.S. Snowboard Grand Prix and FIS World Cup events, will be averaged together to determine the places on the U.S. team for the Olympic Games in February.

So, what has changed since Dunn competed in 1998?

For starters, the location has. Dunn's second trip to the Olympics means being closer to home and no jet lag.

"I do think jet lag takes so much out of you. Being away form home is hard for me. The people in the States will definitely have more energy," Dunn said. "In Japan, I was tired all the time and was just trying not to get sick. It wasn't that fun."

Besides the home turf advantage, Dunn already has experience in Park City. Last year she won the FIS World Cup there in the Olympic superpipe.

The competition has changed too.

Dunn will be up against some tough U.S. competitors, which fields strong riders in Kelly Clark, Tricia Burns, Gretchen Bleiler and Kim Stacey. Internationally, Dunn is looking at Canada's Natasza Zurek as the leading competitor.

"With Natasza this winter it will be a battle for first and second. She is definitely riding a lot. It's good. It's makes everyone push more, helping everyone get more competitive, pushing their snowboarding, learning things and not to stick with the same tricks," she said.

For Dunn, that means incorporating a Rodeo 7 (an upside down, front side 720 degree flip) into her runs and going bigger on her tricks.

If done perfectly, Dunn said that her run in 1998 would definitely not be a winner in Park City, but she could still see it taking a bronze medal.

With one Olympics under both the sport of snowboarding and Dunn's belt, the second time around brings more experience.

With increased popularity since the Nagano Olympics, Dunn said snowboarding should receive better coverage in Park City.

"They were a little apprehensive on how to cover it four years ago. The X-Games showed and created acceptance. Now it's a little more opened and understood better," Dun said.

Dunn will be entering the Olympic race after a year where she cut back her competition. Although Dunn placed high in the events she did compete in for the 2000-2001 season, she said she wanted to have a low-key year before gearing up for the Olympic Games.

"I didn't want to burn out," she said.

Last year, Dunn won the X-Games in Mount Snow, Vt. and took a second in the U.S. Open in Stratton Mountain, Vt.

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