Monday, January 14, 2002
After slow start, Czeschin rounding into form
BRECKENRIDGE, Colo. -- A 10th-place finish at the U.S.
Snowboard Grand Prix was enough for Tommy Czeschin to wrap up a
spot on the American Olympic halfpipe team Sunday.
Czeschin joined Danny Kass and Tricia Byrnes in securing one of
six spots on the team. In earlier competitions, 18-year-old Kelly
Clark and 1998 Olympic bronze medalists Shannon Dunn and Ross
Powers had already clinched their spots.
Clark won the women's competition on Sunday, and J.J. Thomas won
the men's side. Another spot on the halfpipe team will likely be
awarded when the team is finalized Jan. 29, and Thomas is in
position to earn it -- he tied with Czeschin and Kass in Olympic
qualifying, but fell out of the top three because of a tiebreaker.
For Czeschin, making the Olympics isn't much of a surprise --
he's one of the groundbreakers of the sport. Still, a slow start to
the Olympic qualifying season made it tough. He rebounded with a
third-place finish at a Grand Prix event last week in Oregon, and
won the first event in Breckenridge on Thursday.
"I think with a little more training, I'm going to have a
chance at a medal in the Olympics," Czeschin said.
He's one of the few riders who can pull a 1080 -- three full
spins -- in competition, although he didn't try it Sunday. Czeschin
finished 10th, but still secured his spot because none of those who
could have beaten him out placed high enough to do it.
Dunn has had her spot secured for about a month now, on the
strength of victories in the first two Olympic qualifying events.
She finished fourth Sunday, after skipping last week in Oregon.
"I think it's more advantageous, for sure," she said. "It's
kind of weird. It seems like the longer I take off, the better I