Netherlands' Sauerbreij splashes to women's parallel giant slalom gold

Los Angeles TimesFebruary 26, 2010 

Canada's Alexa Loo competes in the ladies' parallel giant slalom snowboard event. (Jason Payne/Canwest News Service/MCT)

WEST VANCOUVER, British Columbia — Maybe it should have been called rainboarding.

They should give awards to the plucky spectators who hung in for the rain-soaked mess at Cypress Mountain.

The No. 1 survivor on the snowboarding course turned out to be Nicolien Sauerbreij of the Netherlands, who won the women's parallel giant slalom. She survived a minuscule first-run deficit to beat Ekaterina Ilyukhina of Russia.

Nightmarish conditions, to be sure. There are two runs in each of the final rounds, and racers go head-to-head and switch sides for the second heat.

Funny, but the person best equipped to handle deteriorating conditions Friday had been dealing with nightmares of Olympic podium failure.

"It is so hard in this weather to concentrate on yourself," Sauerbreij said. "This week, I would sometimes dream of a bronze medal. And I had to say, 'No, no — gold.' "

The lone U.S. entrant was Michelle Gorgone, who made it into the afternoon session before losing to Ilyukhina. Gorgone, who was 22nd at the Olympics four years ago, finished 14th.

"It's pretty gnarly in there," Gorgone said. "I felt I had a good time, and then I'd make a mistake. And then I'd have a good time again, and then I'd make another mistake."

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