Photo by Joel Reichenberger
Chris Klug races to his 11th snowboarding national championship, winning Saturday in the NorAm parallel slalom at the Steamboat Ski Area. Klug, a three-time Olympian, said the race and the win marked the end of his competitive career.
Updated March 28, 2010 at 12:16 a.m.
Steamboat Springs Chris Klug has been snowboarding for 30 years and has been one of America’s top Alpine racers for 20 years.
He’s won 11 national titles, competed in three Olympic Games and earned a bronze medal in the parallel giant slalom at the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City.
So it was fitting Saturday that he grabbed yet one more win, claiming the United States parallel slalom championship by winning the season-ending NorAm race at Steamboat Ski Area.
Afterward, he said it was a poetic cap to his long career.
“This is probably my last competitive race, so I’m stoked to go out on top,” Klug said. “I just think the timing’s right. I had a solid season, got to represent my country again at the Olympics, and now I’m excited about some new adventures.”
The Aspen snowboarder logged 151 World Cup starts in his career, including 10 podiums and three victories.
On Saturday, he managed to cut through the course on a powdery day, besting Steamboat Springs boarder Justin Reiter in the semifinals and Michael Trapp in the finals to secure the national title.
The triumph came after a mistake sent Klug flying off the course and out of Friday’s parallel giant slalom competition.
“I was determined to bounce back today. It was awesome. It was a great race, and the snow was perfect,” Klug said. “It’s just a great scene, and this was an awesome event. I’m stoked to end it.”
Lindsay Lloyd won on the women’s side, finishing off a clean sweep of the NorAm event’s two competitions. She won the parallel giant slalom Friday and then bounced back Saturday to beat Steamboat’s Cassandra Wagar in the semifinals and Heather Herde in the finals.
“The snow for me was challenging,” Lloyd said. “Every run was like a bar fight. Every turn you felt like, ‘Crap, I have to make it up.’ But you hung in there, and it was a rodeo.”
The wins did more than secure her a pair of the green jackets handed out to national champions, however. They locked her in as the overall champion of the NorAm circuit and gave her the automatic World Cup spot that came with it.
“It’s so awesome. That creates another spot for an American woman,” she said. “We have so many girls that are coming up that are just killing it, so this gives us more steam power for the World Cup.”
Steamboat riders fared well in the event. Reiter couldn’t hold off Klug, but he did manage to beat Darren Ratcliffe, another former Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club trainee, in the consolation finals to secure third place.
Wagar, meanwhile, lost in the consolation finals against Megan Farrell but still logged the best NorAm finish of her career at fourth.
“It was a good day,” Reiter said. “Any day on the podium is a good day. It was a lot of fun today, but it’s been a tough season, and I’m happy to close the book on it.”