U.S. Skicross Championship: John Teller, Madeline Riffel ski to titles
Park City • John Teller, a grizzled veteran of ski cross, is just a few days from his 30th birthday.
So far this season, though, Teller has managed to keep the kids in his rearview mirror.
"I like to say I'm a young 30," Teller said moments after claiming the U.S. Skicross Championship on Friday at Canyons Resort, host of the U.S. Freeskiing Grand Prix.
Still, it was a bit surreal for Teller. Next to him on the podium, in second place, was a former student, Tyler Wallasch, 18. Both are from Mammoth Lakes, Calif.
"It was a super fun day," Wallasch said. "It was nice to be in the final with John. He's my idol and mentor. He got me into the sport. Of course, I want to beat him, but it was awesome to be behind him."
Madeline Riffel, also from Mammoth Lakes, finished second to France's Ophelie David, but as the first U.S. woman to cross the finish line, she claimed the U.S. Women's Skicross Championship.
David emerged from a tight pack of four skiers, three of whom crossed skis and crashed, to cross the finish line alone. Riffel managed to pick herself up and finish the course.
"You have to keep focus," David said. "I came here without any pressure. It was a really nice course."
Not for some. Salt Lake City's Whitney Gardner crashed during a morning run and was scratched from the semifinals.
France's Thomas Domenach finished his semifinal run on his back, riding a toboggan. There was not an injury update.
American Joe Swensson also crashed and finished his race with a bloody nose and scratches on his right eyelid.
Riffel was fortunate not to crash into the fence. She was able to regain her skis without much effort.
"I can't believe I made it," Riffel said. "I'm really surprised. I'm up against some good girls."
Next up for most of the field is the World Championship next week in Norway.
U.S. Skicross Championship
Friday at Canyons Resort in Park City
1. John Teller, USA
2. Tyler Wallasch, USA
3. Stanley Hayer, Canada
4. Brant Crossan, USA
1. Ophelie David, France
2. Madeline Riffel, USA
3. Langely McNeal, USA
4. India Sherret, Canada