Park City • Langely McNeal left the bell-bottom pants at home, this time.
Having been notoriously disqualified from the Winter X Games last month because of illegal elastic bands wrapped around her baggy pant cuffs, the American skicross racer from Sun Valley wore a tighter pair — on loan from her mother, again — at the U.S. Grand Prix on Saturday.
U.S. Grand Prix Ski crossSaturday at the Canyons Resort:
Gold » Christopher Del Bosco, Canada
Silver » Brady Leman, Canada
Bronze » Stanislas Rey, Canada
Gold » Marielle Thompson, Canada
Silver » Langely McNeal, USA
Bronze » Katrin Mueller, Switzerland
And what do you know?
McNeal raced through to finish second behind Canada’s Marielle Thompson in a dramatic final at the Canyons Resort — and pocket a $5,000 check that will go a long way to helping finance her career.
"Pretty excited right now," she said. "A little redemption, after X Games."
McNeal was the highest finishing American, among a crowd of Canadians on the podium.
Canada’s Christopher Del Bosco, the reigning Winter X Games champion, took gold on the men’s side, ahead of countryman Brady Leman. American Joe Swensson finished sixth overall, while John Teller crashed out of the quarterfinals after crashing in the semifinals of the Winter X Games.
"Good day for us," Thompson said. "I think we’re all really happy."
The 28-year-old has been supporting herself almost entirely since returning to the slopes after working in the corporate world, driving to many of the competitions and waxing her own skis. The U.S. Ski and Snowboard Association has little money to dedicate to skicross, so most Americans in the sport must pay their own way.
"She’s done pretty much everything on her own," her mother, Beverly McNeal, said.
Family members watched from the finish area Saturday as McNeal cruised down much of her final run behind Thompson and Switzerland’s Katrin Mueller, watching them "just go back and forth, back and forth."
Athletes in skicross race four at a time down an Alpine course with big jumps and sweeping turns. First one to the finish wins.
"I saw them kind of rubbing elbows, so I kind of expected a crash," McNeal said. "So I was just being patient, trying not to do anything stupid, and I lucked out."
Indeed, Mueller crashed, allowing McNeal to swoop past and claim her redemption.
"Nothing actually has felt this good for a while in ski racing," she said. "So I’m really, really, really happy right now. Five grand, no DQs, and I’m in one piece. You can’t ask for more."
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