Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Watanabe just misses World Cup win

DQ in Bad Gastein SBX

For a happy moment Hailey's Graham Watanabe, 26, thought he had won the Men's Final heat of Sunday's 2009 LG Snowboard FIS World Cup snowboard cross race at Bad Gastein, Austria.

In fact the 2000 Wood River High School graduate celebrated with his Small Final U.S. teammates Seth Wescott, Nate Holland and Shaun Palmer at the finish line on Bucheben hill at Bad Gastein.

But, as it turned out, 32-year-old Australian Damon Hayler celebrated his first-ever World Cup triumph when apparent winner Watanabe was disqualified for missing a gate. Watanabe settled for fourth place.

Here's how the final heat went:

Markus Schairer, 21, of Austria, the World Cup men's leader after four races, was in the Men's Final lead when Men's Semi-Final winner Watanabe overtook Schairer in the second bank. Squeezed to the fence, Schairer went down as Canada's Mike Robertson flashed past. But Robertson crashed on the final jump.

While Watanabe celebrated at the bottom of the hill, it was determined that he missed a gate by running over the inner stubby. Hayler, who had won the other Men's Semi-Final, thus earned his first World Cup win.

Meanwhile, 2006 Olympic SBX silver medalist Lindsey Jacobellis, 23, of Stratton, Vt. won her 16th career World Cup race in the Women's SBX Final. The reigning world champion leads the World Cup standings 2890 to 2650 over Sandra Frei of Switzerland.

In the men's standings, there are four Americans in the top 10 behind Schairer (2160 points). They are third-place Wescott (1850), sixth-place Nick Baumgartner (1380), eighth-place Nate Holland (1360) and ninth-place Watanabe (1220).

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