U.S. snowboarders open world championships with four-medal haul

By Brianna Tammaro | Feb. 24, 2015, 11 a.m. (ET)
Heidi Jo Duce, Brenna Huckaby and Nicole Roundy display their snowboard-cross medals won on day one at the 2015 IPC Snowboarding World Championships.

LA MOLINA, Spain — Only two months after being named to the U.S. Paralympics Snowboarding National Team, 19-year-old Brenna Huckaby is a world champion. Huckaby, a Baton Rouge native, earned the first snowboard-cross world title of the day at the 2015 IPC Snowboard World Championships in La Molina, Spain.

Duce, Huckaby, Roundy and Strong represent Team USA at the
medal ceremony for the snowboarding world championships
Nicole Roundy (Salt Lake City, Utah), Heidi Jo Duce (Ouray, Colorado) and Evan Strong (Maui, Hawaii) accompanied Huckaby on the podium, capturing four medals for the U.S., the most of any country at the competition.

Huckaby won the first gold medal of the competition in the women’s LL-1 class over 2014 Paralympic silver medalist Cecile Hernandez-Cervellon of France and teammate Nicole Roundy (bronze). Huckaby recently earned a bronze medal in the debut of the women’s LL-1 head-to-head competition at the 2015 IPC Alpine Skiing Snowboard World Cup in Aspen after securing a spot on the national team in December.

Duce followed in the women’s LL-2 division by earning silver against winner Bibian Mentel-Spee and bronze medalist Lisa Bunschoten of the Netherlands.

“It was one of the better events I’ve ever been too,” Duce said. “I’m really excited on how they put the course together and I think that really had an impact on how well everyone rode today.  I rode with confidence due to the course and that made the difference.”

Team USA’s other silver medal came in the men’s LL-2 category, where Evan Strong took on teammate Keith Gabel (Ogden, Utah) in the head-to-head competition to advance to the semifinals. Strong, a 2014 Paralympic gold medalist, earned a spot in the final against eventual winner Matti Suur-Hamari of Finland. Canada’s Alex Massie finished in third.

Just short of the bronze medal was Fatu Matagi (Herriman, Utah), one of the new faces on the U.S. national team, who battled for third place but fell to Great Britain’s Ben Moore in the men’s upper limb impairment (ULI) group.

The event featured the new snowboard-cross head-to-head format and will continue on Feb. 28 with the new banked slalom discipline. A livestream is available for the IPC Snowboard World Championships is available for play-back and live competition on the U.S. Paralympics website.

For a link to the full results from the world championships, click here.