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Anderson, Neilsen, Ricker strong in snowboard cross

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Quebec’s Jaysey Jay Anderson just may be the fastest North American on the World Cup snowboard tour, winning two snowboard cross gold medals and placing second in a dual slalom in the same week.

Anderson started his roll on the "Horneggli" course in Schoenried, Switzerland, on Jan. 11, when the 25 year old turned heads by holding his own and then some against the strong field of Europeans.

Although the dual slalom has never been his strongest, or favourite discipline – he prefers longer races where there is room for some trial and error – dual slalom is the only alpine race format in the 2002 Winter Olympics. Anderson makes no bones about the fact that he will be at Park City, Utah, to win.

His determination showed in Schoenried, as he carved his way through the soft snow and changing conditions, leaving his competitors in the dust. In the final race, however, Slovenian racer Dejan Kosir managed to get the jump on Anderson with a fast start and took home the gold.

"This still has to happen," said Anderson, a veteran of the Canadian Snowboard Federation alpine team. "I had fun, it was a good race – a little short. It was a fight for me especially, I’m so inconsistent. I got bucked around a lot. It was good training and good racing, both in one."

Anderson’s good fortune continued later that week in Avoriaz, France, with back to back snowboard cross wins – his second and third of the season.

Anderson started off strong with the fastest time in the qualifier and ended strong with a convincing lead in most of the races.

"It was tough," said Anderson. "Really hard work for me. But I was convinced I’d do well from the very start.

"The course was not one of my favourites – I prefer alpine courses like we had in Whistler. In the upper part you definitely had the advantage with an alpine board… but it was different further down so everyone got some advantage from it."

Simone Malus of Italy, who has only one career podium to his credit, was happy to finish the day in second. "There was nothing else I could add to beat Jaysey Jay. He was so strong today – like someone from a different planet." Swiss racer Guillaume Nantermond earned his first SBX podium of the season with the bronze, while Zeke Steggall of Australia finished fourth.

In the women’s race, Karine Ruby of France edged Ursula Fingerlos of Austria, who raced in pain after a crash and went for knee surgery the next day. Germany’s Sandra Farmand was third, while Austrian Manuela Riegler claimed fourth.

On day two of the double-header, Anderson didn’t miss a beat. He won every heat of the day to earn a second gold. He also earned the nickname "The Rocket" from race fans.

"I’m really happy and it is good money, I guess, which made it worth it to stay," said Anderson, who was 20,000 Swiss francs richer (not including his silver medal cheque from the dual slalom) after the experience.

"There were some tricky sections and I just tried not to slow down so that someone could pass me. The start was definitely the scariest moment all day, but I think it worked to my advantage that they changed the cadence today."

World Cup points leader Pontus Stahlkloo of Sweden retained his lead in the standings, but by a much slimmer margin over Anderson. He was knocked out in the quarter finals on day one, and was disqualified on day two for missing a turn.

Austrian rider Lukas Gruener, 19, was shocked to find himself in second place, and Jonas Aspman of Sweden was happy to be in third – it was his first podium appearance since 1998.

Ruby once again won the women’s competition, followed by teammate Julie Pomagalski, Carmen Ranigler of Italy and Maria Tikhvinskaja of Russia.

Elsewhere in the world of Boardercross last week, Whistler riders Drew Neilsen and Maëlle Ricker both earned silver medals at the Aspen-Swatch Boardercross Worlds at Buttermilk Mountain, Colorado.

Philippe Conte of Switzerland took the checkered flag ahead of Neilsen, while Nicolas Conte of France and Seth Wescott of the U.S. brought up the rear.

Line Oestvold of Norway won the women’s competition. Ricker finished second, followed by Catherine Poetzl of Austria and Fernie’s Erin Simmons.

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