Holland holds on for three-peat in boardercross
ASPEN ” Nate Holland unintentionally woke up at 5:30 in the morning Saturday.
“I was just amped,” said the 29-year-old Truckee, Calif., snowboard racer. “Just ready to go.”
Who could blame him?
A chance to pick up a three-peat in boardercross ” and cement his name next to living legend Shaun Palmer’s in Winter X lore ” awaited. Being the impatient guy that he is, Holland was having a hard time waiting for the sun to get to work.
It was patience, however, that paid off some nine-odd hours later when Holland stormed out of the start gates in the men’s boardercross final and found himself mid-pack, with U.S Snowboarding teammate Seth Wescott out in front.
Just as he had all morning, Holland waited for things to sort themselves out on course before making his move. It came when Wescott ” seemingly cursed at this event ” crashed violently coming off a jump with U.S. teammate Graham Watanabe and Canadian Derek Wintermans.
Seeing his window, Holland sling-shotted himself into the lead, then rode possessed, managing to hold off Austria’s Markus Shaier and Germany’s David Speiser. Shaier nearly caught Holland near the bottom of the course before flying off the final jump awkwardly and smacking down hard.
“It’s hard when you’re out front ” you think you’re always working your hardest, but when you’re behind you seem to work a little harder,” Holland said. “That supernatural energy comes out. I was able to get past Wescott, he cased the jump, and I heard him screaming. I was just like, ‘Go, Go, Go.'”
Watanabe wound up fourth while Wescott ” in his 11th Winter X appearance ” finished fifth. The 2006 Olympic champion has never won an X Games gold, the lone blemish in an otherwise sparkling resume.
Basalt Olympian Jason Smith, who qualified second in Friday’s elimination round, failed to make the final and finished 10th overall.
“It could have been any of us up there, but I don’t know, something clicked,” Holland said of the win. “I think it’s the course, the glide, the speed of it. I also just love the energy around X Games.”
Shaier was ecstatic about his runner-up finish, although it came at a cost.
“I crashed really hard,” said the Austrian, who finished 15th in his Winter X debut last year. ” My body is hurting pretty bad now. I think I’ll go to the doctor.”
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