Friday March 6th, 2009
The postponed SBX finals took place on Thursday morning under a totally clear sky. After our “fog out” day, the blue skies and sunshine were a welcome sight. The riders had not lost their eagerness to get out and race against the best SBX juniors in the world. In women’s action, Jenna Feldman, Jackie Hernandez and Faye Gulini were all eliminated in their first heats despite strong riding in training. Final results had Faye leading the US women in 9th place with Jackie right behind her in the 12th spot. Jenna rounded out the Finals field in 16th place.
In the Men’s heats, things got going well with Pacsun Teammates Alex Tuttle and Mick Dierdorff taking 1st and 2nd in their opening heat. In the next race, Rob Rudy took the holeshot, but got clipped from behind going into the first berm and finished his heat in 4th place. Roger Carver and JJ Tomlinson were paired together in the 6th heat and promptly took the lead through the first turn. One of the Austrian team riders was able to sneak inside of JJ in the 2nd berm and split the two PacSun riders. Roger crossed the line in first and JJ finished third despite a late attempt to pass into 2nd place. With three riders advancing to the quarter finals, the chances for a US podium were looking good.
Mick and Alex, again in the same heat, started off the action. Alex got a great pull with Mick right behind him. The course was running fast and Mick overshot the hip jump and spun out in the next berm. Alex was left to lead the field to the finish. Mick was not to be denied his spot, however. With an incredible charge through the final rollers, Mick cruised back into second place to advance to the next round. Roger also won his heat and advanced to the semi-final round. The US team now had 3 men in the top 8- a feat that has never happened for the US in the history of Junior Worlds. Alex and Mick were again paired together in the first heat. Once again, they pulled out of the gate in 1st and 2nd place. They led most of the race until Mick got taken out from behind right before the final jump and came across the finish line a little shaken up, but ready for the consolation round. Alex won the heat to advance to the finals. In the second semifinal, Roger had a great race to also advance to the finals. The consolation round ran first, but it wasn’t Mick’s day as a crack in his board took him out of the race about midway through the course to finish in 8th place.
The finals saw some of the best racing of the day with all four riders running neck and neck the entire length of the course. Roger came across the finish line in third place. Alex was 4th despite a desperate finish lunge that caused him to cross the finish line head first. Overall, it was an historic day for the US in Junior World Championship SBX. The US placed 5 riders in the top 32, 3 in the top 8 and 2 in the top 4. Final results for the men were Roger Carver in 3rd, Alex Tuttle in 4th, Mick Dierdorff in 8th, JJ Tomlinson in 17th and Rob Rudy in 26th.
Due to the fogout on Wednesday, the race organizers elected to run the PGS on Thursday afternoon directly after the SBX finals. Things got underway quickly with the Women’s qualifying round. Pacsun Team rider Mimi Wiencke qualified for the finals in 9th place after a slight bobble in her first run cost her some time. Junior World rookie Cassie Wagar had two smooth runs, but missed the cut to the final 16 and finished 18th. Fellow PacSun team rider Jackie Hernandez finished in 29th place after a crash in her second run. Jamie Mills also went down in the slushy snow and finished 33rd on the day.
In Men’s qualifying, all the guys rode well, but none of them could quite crack into the 16 man final. PacSun rider Alex “Z” Hernandez came in 25th with Brandon Booth following in 30th. Pacsun rider Mack Joyce finished in the 34th spot. In the women’s final, Mimi came out charging and was .03 seconds behind after the first run. She gunned it in the second run, but a slight crash kept her from making up the time she needed. She finished the day in 12th place.
Wednesday March 4, 2009
Tuesday March 3rd were the BoarderCross time trials over here in Nagano. All of the US Team members were riding very strong in training, but the competition at Junior Worlds is pretty intense. One bobble can mean .10 seconds and the difference between making the finals or not. The women got it started first and all of our girls put down solid first runs with PacSun rider Faye Gulini leading the charge for the US Team sitting in 3rd after the first runs. Fellow Pacsun rider Jackie Hernandez also put down a good run and was pretty sure about making it to the top 16. Jenna Feldman was sitting in 13th and Chloe Banning was just outside the bubble in 18th after the 1st run. Junior World rookie Cassie Wagar also had a good run, but was sitting in 21st position going into the second runs. All the girls in the field pinned the throttle for the second runs bumping Faye to 9th, Jackie to 11th and Jenna to 15th. Chloe had another solid run, but couldnt find the extra couple of tenths of a second to make it to the finals and would finish 21st. Cassie gunned it in her second run and moved up to a very respectable 18th place.
On the men's side, the competition was intense. After the first runs, the difference between the 1st spot and 32nd was 2.4 seconds- not a whole lot of wiggle room going into 2nd runs. All 5 of the US riders laid down solid runs and were comfortably in the top 32 with the exception of Roger Carver who fell and DQ'ed his first run. The second runs were even more intense as all the riders battled hard to move up or get into the finals, but it was Pacsun rider Mick Dierdorff who set the bar for the day. He laid down a blistering run and qualified in 1st place as the only rider to break 47 seconds for the day. Mick was followed by JJ Tomlinson in 11th place, Pacsun rider Alex Tuttle in 16th, Carver in 22nd and Rob Rudy in 24th. When the dust settled 8 of the 10 US riders were moving on to the finals including all 5 of our men. Overall, it was a fantastic performance for the US Team and the PacSun team riders at Junior Worlds.
Wednesday was the finals day and the team woke up ready to race. Unfortunately we got to the hill to find it completely socked in with the thickest fog we had ever seen. The fog cleared long enough for a few training runs, but then closed back in for the rest of the day. The finals were postpned until Thursday. The day, however, was not lost. Roger Carver won the Top of the SBX course "Big Air" competition by hucking a backflip over Jackie Hernandez and Jenna Feldman on the 3' pro-built, hip-gap kicker decorated with the finest Japanese foliage. FIS TD and US coach Mike Mallon certified the construction of the jump and dyed it with a can of vending machine Japanese Cafe Latte. Even though they were dissapointed to not race today, the riders had a blast at the top and are poised and ready to race hard on Thursday. Check back tomorrow for final results and news from SBX and PGS events.
Monday March 2, 2009
After a 4 hour flight to San Francisco and a 10 hour flight to a Tokyo, the last thing we wanted to hear was that we had a 5-6 hour bus ride to our hotel. But, such is the life for the US contingent attending FIS Junior World Championships in Nagano, Japan. This event has been the launching pad for many USASA riders to the international level over the last 10 years. Riders like Danny Kass, Andy Finch, Seth Westcott, Hannah Teter, Elijah Teter, Lane Knaack, Gretchen Bleiler and many others have used this event to get started on their pro careers.
The 2009 US Junior World team is here for the next 7 days to compete in SBX, GS, SL and HP. The 23 riders selected to the team were chosen based on Revolution Tour, Grand Prix and RTTC results from earlier in the season. Of those 23 riders who made the trip to Japan, 12 of them are also members of the USASA PacSun Team. Chloe Banning, Jackie Hernandez, Faye Gulini, Mick Dierdorff, Alex Tuttle are racing boardercross. Chris Mahaney and Brooke Shaw were also favorites to qualify when their seasons were cut short due to injuries. Jackie Hernandez, Mimi Wiencke, Alex Hernandez and Mack Joyce will be bashing some gates in GS and Slalom. Finally, Faye Gulini, Kaitlyn Farrington, Kelly Marren, Brett Esser and Broc Waring will be getting shredtastic in the U-ditch on the last day of competition.
The weather in Japan is totally unpredictable- we've had rain, snow, wind and sun, and that was just the first 24 hours. While we have no idea what the weather might do the next few days, we do know that the USASA is very well represented by its PacSun team members. We hope to show some great results and hopefully bring home a medal or two. Keep an eye on this blog for the next couple of days to get news and results from FIS Junior World Championships.