Steamboat Springs With the electric halfpipe "huck-o-meter" now unplugged and the swanky Aspen athlete lounges emptied, a pair of athletes with Steamboat Springs roots can look back on their performances at Winter X Games 12 with pride.
After taking a couple of falls in training for her Women's Superpipe run, Gina Gmeiner had her worries. But under Aspen's Friday night lights, she delivered a pair of solid runs.
Gmeiner, a 2002 Lowell Whiteman School graduate, "bobbled" a 540 landing on her first run to score a 64.0, but linked everything together on her second, a 69.33-point run that bested her first score and therefore counted for the overall standings.
"I was having fun and just enjoying myself," Gmeiner said Wednesday in Steamboat, where she was visiting family. "I landed everything that I wanted to, and the airs were all big."
Gmeiner stuck the most technical part of her run - which ended with a 540 into an alley-oop 360 with a switch landing - to earn seventh overall. Canadian Sarah Burke took gold, followed by Swedish skier Mirjam Jaeger in second and Utah's Jen Hudak in third.
Watching some of the younger competitors push themselves too hard only to botch landings - a pitfall Gmeiner learned from in her own X Games debut two years ago - Gmeiner stuck a comfortable run. The 23-year-old also felt pleased knowing she could hang with full-time skiers, trying to balance her own training in Park City, Utah, with two jobs while pursuing a graphic design degree.
"With a little more knowledge in the pipe and a consistent chunk of time to train, there's no reason I can't be up there," said Gmeiner, who claimed to steer clear of the Aspen aprÃs-ski shenanigans to complete homework assignments.
Callan Chythlook-Sifsof, a U.S. Snowboarding Team rider and 18-year-old Girdwood, Alaska, native who has spent the last four years training with the Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club, had to step up her game for a long Snowboarder X course with some real teeth.
"There was a lot of crashes. The last jump was really kicky - throwing you in the backseat - but it was fun to have stuff that was more challenging," Chythlook-Sifsof said from a rare day at home in Girdwood on Wednesday.
Although the competition was much of the same international crop of riders that Chythlook-Sifsof sees in World Cup competition, where she competes in both Alpine racing and snowboardcross, she said there was just something about the heavily hyped and publicized competition.
"I think it's different - people's spirits are different, in a good way," said Chythlook-Sifsof, who scorched the seventh-fastest time in the qualifying heats.
But in her six-rider semifinal heat, where every rider took a spill on the final jump, Chythlook-Sifsof missed top-three qualification for the finals by 5/100s of a second.
"It just makes me want to come back more," said Chythlook-Sifsof, who still qualifies as a junior rider.
Lindsey Jacobellis, the only American ahead of Chythlook-Sifsof in the snowboardcross World Cup standings, won the event. Chythlook-Sifsof took second in the consolation finals to finish eighth overall.
Gmeiner now enters "the crunch time" in her season, with the U.S. and Aspen Freeskiing Opens up next. Chythlook-Sifsof heads on a road trip starting with the next Jeep King of the Mountain series event, Feb. 8 to 10 in Squaw Valley, Calif., and finishing at the FIS Junior World Championships in Khanty-Mansiysk, Russia, in late March.