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U.S. Snowboarders win gold and silver at Telluride World Cup team SBX


The U.S. Snowboard Team rocked Telluride today during the World Cup SBX Team race. A little like a relay, the new snowboard event involves groups of two riders from each national team. Four athletes race the course and once they cross the finish line, a sensor drops the start gate for their teammate and the racing ensues.

Stratton, VT-native Lindsey Jacobellis and Utah's Faye Gulini took gold for the women, and Nate Holland (Squaw Valley, CA) and Nick Baumgartner grabbed the silver for the men. Graham Watanabe and yesterday's podium performer Ross Powers nabbed fifth.

Jacobellis, the 2006 Olympic silver medalist was proud of Gulini who is just 17 years-old. "She was riding so well down the whole course," Jacobellis said of Gulini. "It's amazing as a rider to see her develop at such a young age." 

The women didn't just gun for gold, too. They had a strategy. "I have a weaker pull (at the start), so having Lindsey go first to give me that holeshot definitely made a huge difference," Gulini said. 

Jacobellis and Gulini were followed in second by Canadians Maelle Ricker and Dominique Maltais and Switzerland's Simona Meiler and 2006 Olympic gold medalist Tanja Frieden finished third. 

On the men's side, French riders Xavier De Le Rue and Pierre Vaultier took first, followed extremely closely by Holland and Baumgartner. "Today was a blast. I knew I had three good races in me," Holland said. "Baumgartner did a great job getting me out of the gate in either first or second."

"It's pretty cool, this team event," Holland, a five-time X Games gold medalist added. "I was Baumgartner's biggest fan today. I'd watch him go out of the gate, root for him as much as I could, and then it was time for me to put up my end of the bargain." 

Ross "The Boss" Powers (Okemo, VT) and his teammate, World Cup winner and funny guy Graham Watanabe (Sun Valley, ID) were ready for the final with Powers winning each of the first runs and Watanabe retaining his lead. However, in the semi-final round, Watanabe had a bit of a bobble. "I got a little too jazzed in the start and made an early move over a tall roller - but it was too early and I got bucked off balance," Watanabe explained. "I had to hike up over a feature. I made up time, but not enough." 

Regardless, all of the athletes enjoyed the team racing format, especially halpipe pro Powers. "I feel better and better every day, and today's team race was a lot of fun. It was cool for me to be out there with Graham having a good time," Powers said. "Just to go out there and win each one of my heats was huge. I can leave here with great confidence, enjoy the holidays, and go to Europe strong and try to make this t eam." 

2010 Visa Snowboardcross Cup 
Telluride, CO - Dec. 20, 2009 
Team SBX

1. France 2 (De La Rue, Vaultier) 
2. USA 2 (Holland, Baumgartner) 
3. Canada1 (Robertson, Nielson) 
4. Austria (Schairer, Fuchs) 
5. USA 2 (Watanabe, Powers) 

1. USA 1 (Jacobellis, Gulini) 
2. Canada (Ricker; Maltais) 
3. Switzerland 1 (Frieden, Meiler) 
4. Switzerland 2 (Francon, Aubry) 
5. Japan (Doi, Kuwashima)