Tuesday's Race to the Cup parallel giant slalom title came down to snowboarding legend Lisa Kosglow and hometown favorite Erica Mueller.
Kosglow, a veteran of the U.S. Ski team who competed at the 1998 Olympic Games in Nagano and the 2002 Olympic Games in Park City, Utah, represents what the U.S. Snowboard Team is now. Mueller, who was just named to the team this year, represents what the future of the sport might hold.
But on Tuesday, experience was the key, and Kosglow collected the victory in a tight race.
Kosglow took the advantage in the first run and then stayed close enough on the final run to win the heat.
"There was a big difference between the two courses. The blue course was quite a bit faster than the red and I had the blue course first, so I knew I needed to get an advantage. I was able to capitalize on some of Erica's mistakes, so I got the full deferential on the first run. When I went into the red course, I knew I just had to stick with her. I didn't have to beat her, so I didn't have to take a huge amount of risks, I just had to stay on her tail."
Mueller, who won Monday's parallel slalom event, had another strong showing in Tuesday's giant slalom. She moved past teammate Jourdan Donoho in the round of 16, beat teammate Andi Jo Stump in the quarterfinals and Lynn Ott in the semifinals.
Despite losing to Kosglow in the finals, Mueller was not disappointed with her effort.
"I'm so psyched with the way I'm riding," Mueller said. "I was having a tough time in December, but I think I came back ready to charge. I'm going into a tough month ... so it's good to start the month off this way, and the year off this way."
The Race to the Cup was a good start for the rest of the Steamboat team, too.
Steamboat had eight riders qualify for Tuesday's finals, including Mueller.
Kimiko Zakreski placed fourth, Andi Jo Stump was fifth, Johanna Shaw was sixth, Ekaterina Zavialova was 10th, Donoho was 12th, Ashley Nice was 14th, and Lindsay Lloyd was 15th.
Coach Thedo Remmelink said the races were a great experience for his riders and he feels that Mueller, Zakreski and Zavialova made some big breakthroughs.
--To reach John F. Russell call 871-4209
or e-mail email@example.com