Team USA dominates Day 1 of competition in Aspen, Colorado

By Beth Bourgeois | Jan. 12, 2015, 7 p.m. (ET)

Mike Shea (left, silver), Evan Strong and Keith Gabel on the podium after sweeping the men's LL2 snowboard cross in Aspen. The trio, in the same placements, also swept the medals at the Sochi 2014 Paralympic Winter Games.

ASPEN, Colo. – Team USA had a strong showing at the 2015 International Paralympic Committee Alpine Skiing Snowboard World Cup today, garnering seven medals on the first day of the two-day competition in Aspen, Colorado.

In the women’s time trial competition, Brenna Huckaby (Sandy, Utah), who recently qualified for the national team, put the U.S. team on the map by winning silver in the women’s time trial snowboard lower limb 1 (SB-LL1) impairment group. She finished in 1:31.83 behind French racer Cecile Hernandez-Cervellon, who finished with a final time of 1:24.07. U.S. teammate Nicole Roundy (Bountiful, Utah), won the bronze in 1:33.02, with U.S. Paralympian Megan Harmon (Huntsville, Alabama) taking fourth in 2:17.34.

While today’s was celebrated, Huckaby was already focused on tomorrow’s competition.

“I am so excited, I was happy with my performance today,” said Huckaby. “But I’m really excited for tomorrow. I feel like I shine in the head-to-head competition. The rush of having someone next to you just makes me push myself that much harder.”

On Tuesday, riders will compete in the two-by-two format, also referred to as "head-to-head competition," marking the first time this event has been held at an IPC-sanctioned competition.

In the women’s SB-LL2 impairment time trial, favorite Bibian Mentel-Spee of The Netherlands took first place honors, finishing in 1:09.26. Winning silver was 2014 U.S. Paralympian Heidi Jo Duce (Ouray, Colorado) in 1:23.28. She was following by Lisa Bunschoten from The Netherlands with a time of 1:25.98.

Paralympic bronze medalist Amy Purdy (Summit County, Colorado), competing in snowboarding for the first time since the Paralympic Winter Games, finished fourth in a time of 1:26.65. She had limited training prior to the event, having just released her memoir On My Own Two Feet. 

In men’s competition, relative newcomer to the U.S. team, Mike Schultz (Saint Cloud, Minnesota) won the SB-LL1 impairment group with a final time of 1:09.89. He was followed by Chris Vos of The Netherlands and Giuseppe Comunale from Italy in 1:11.45 and 1:30.61, respectively.

In the men’s SB-LL2 impairment class, it was a repeat of the Sochi 2014 Paralympic Winter Games; U.S. teammates Evan Strong (Maui, Hawaii), Mike Shea (Castaic, California) and Keith Gabel (Ogden, Utah) swept the podium for a one-two-three punch and three U.S. medals in the event.

“The sweep is something we always work for,” said Shea.  “We talk about it in training, and we just pursued our plan, which is to be conservative in training, and during race day to make sure to let things run, and today the course ran good and we took advantage of that.”

More than 40 snowboarders from 12 countries will continue competition tomorrow at the 2015 IPC Alpine Skiing Snowboard World Cup. Full results can be found at http://www.paralympic.org/snowboard/calendar.

The 2015 IPC Alpine Skiing Snowboard World Cup competition in Aspen is supported by The Hartford.