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Produced & Maintained by Idaho Mountain Express, Box 1013, Ketchum, ID 83340-1013 
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Copyright © 2002 Express Publishing Inc.
All Rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or in part in any form or medium without express written permission of Express Publishing Inc. is prohibited. 

For the week of March 12 - 18, 2003


SV riders dominate
in Aspen

Three to train with U.S. team

Express Staff Writer

The Sun Valley snowboard team still does not have a half pipe.

The kids know this, we know this, but it’s doubtful that any other teams who showed up in Aspen, Colo. for last weekend’s Western Regional Championships could have guessed that Sun Valley’s elite competitors are still halfpipe-less.

From Calgary to Mammoth, teams from the furthest reaches of western North America hit the road to Aspen for this huge event.

Aspen’s tournament was the largest of the year and the halfpipe had the most competitors of any tournament Sun Valley Snowboard Team Coach Andy Gilbert has ever attended.

For those who did learn that Gilbert's team trains sans-pipe, there was barely time to gasp in disbelief before Sun Valley snowboarders rose to the top of various events.

The halfpipe event had so many competitors that the race organizers had to enact some unusual and difficult rules to whittle down the field of over 150 snowboarders.

After only one run in the pipe, the pool was cut to 55 with five going directly to finals and 50 getting the chance to take a second run.

Impressively, Sun Valley sent two athletes directly to the halfpipe finals. Without passing GO, without collecting $200 and without taking another run, Coach Gilbert proudly sent David Kunz and Yancy Caldwell to perform in the final event.

Kunz finished first in his J2 class and third overall in the pipe. Caldwell finished second in his J1 class and fourth in the overall pipe.

For the girls, Liz Shanklin turned in an equally exceptional performance by taking first in her J1 class and ranking in the top ten in the overall female halfpipe.

In addition to these elite finishers, Sun Valley sent 11 more for a second run in the pipe. Eleven of 55 is a truly outstanding showing for any team, and an even more impressive feat for a team that has no pipe for practice.

Sun Valley found more success in other events. In the alpine slalom, Austen Butler finished fourth in his Juniors class.

A couple of Sun Valley alumni were in Aspen as well and one of these old faces, Graham Watanabe, won the overall slalom event outright.

Another SV alumni present was Quinn Orb who left the Wood River Valley when he joined the Junior World Team.

As every snowboarder in the Wood River Valley knows, Sun Valley has conceded to installing a pipe on Lower Warm Springs next season. For coach Gilbert, this means a chance for even more success.

Gilbert couldn’t hide his excitement about the new pipe. "We’ve done so well without a pipe—now that we’ll have one we’ll probably shoot through the roof," he said.

He also looks forward to the training possibilities: "The pipes are getting bigger, so the kids need to train to get stronger accordingly."

The highest accolades awarded to Sun Valley riders last weekend were invitations for Shanklin, Kunz and Caldwell onto the U.S. Junior Gold Team. Each year six riders are named to the Gold Team and are invited to train with U.S. Snowboard team in the summer at Oregon’s Mt. Hood.

For three of six Gold Team members to be from the same halfpipe-less Sun Valley team is incredible.

Those Sun Valley riders on the Gold Team will be invited back to train at Hood every year they remain juniors. Kunz, Caldwell and Shanklin will thus be joining past Sun Valley riders Kelsey Bunce and Claire Cetera at Mt. Hood this summer.

The season is nearing its end, but coach Gilbert will head back to Aspen with the first week in April for U.S. Finals. Also, Ed Sawicz will be heading to Sunday River, Maine for the USASA National Championships.


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The Idaho Mountain Express is distributed free to residents and guests throughout the Sun Valley, Idaho resort area community. Subscribers to the Idaho Mountain Express will read these stories and others in this week's issue.