Riders gear up

Local snowboarders competing in men's giant parallel slalom

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— Canadian Philippe Berube is trying to look at Wednesday's parallel giant slalom in Bardonecchia, Italy, as simply another opportunity to race.

But calling the Olympics just another race is like referring to New York City as just another town. And you can bet that the rider from the Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club will lay it all on the line for Olympic glory.

"I feel very good competing in my first Olympics. ... It is just a race," Berube said after Monday's practice. "Sure, there is a little more media and fans, but we still have to make the same turns, and the riding does not change because of what is around."

But these races will change because of what's at stake -- gold, silver and bronze.

Berube is one of two local riders competing in the Olympic event. The other, Tyler Jewell, will be the only racer representing the United States in the Alpine snowboarding event.

"If everything goes my way on race day, I will ride to the best of my ability. This is all I can ask of myself, and I believe that my best is worthy of winning a gold medal," Jewell said. "I also believe my result has been decided a long time ago on many different levels. Winning a race is not a magic trick. My coach and I joke about becoming an overnight success in 10 years. I feel that my result was determined this summer when I got out of bed every morning and went to the gym."

There is no doubt that both riders would love to end up on the podium in the event.

The qualifying rounds are Wednesday morning, followed by the elimination rounds and finals in the afternoon.

The race will be on the same slope as the snowboardcross competition, which was held earlier this week. Berube said that because the jumps and banked walls were flattened to make the giant slalom hill, conditions are tough.

"The hardest thing about training is getting use to the snow that changes every day," he said. "Since the snowboardcross was on the same hill we race on, they had to put the jumps down. The hill has to get harder, but the snowfall we had the last few days hasn't helped."

In the parallel giant slalom, riders will race down the course alone in the qualifying round, hoping to make the cut. The riders who make it to the next round will attempt to make it through the brackets as they compete against other riders in a head-to-head format. The top two riders will advance to the finals.

"So many things have happened good and bad that made it possible for me to be here, these events lead me to believe that my being here is meant to be," Jewell said. "My result is meant to be as well. I believe, win or lose, there is a lesson I am supposed to learn. One thing is for sure -- I am going for it."

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