Roundy, Shea take snowboard-cross wins to open world cup in Aspen

By Brianna Tammaro | Feb. 05, 2016, 8:51 p.m. (ET)
Mike Shea takes gold with U.S. teammate Evan Strong in third in the men's SB-LL2 snowboard-cross race on Day One at the IPC Snowboard World Cup in Aspen, Colo.

ASPEN, Colo. – Team USA returned to their home snow in Aspen, Colorado with seven trips to the podium on the first of two days at the 2016 IPC Snowboard World Cup. Led by wins from Nicole Roundy (Salt Lake City, Utah) and Mike Shea (Castaic, California), the U.S. looked in fine form against a strong international field.

Shea stole the show in the men’s SB-LL2 class, qualifying as the number one seed in the field of 15 to win gold against Finland’s snowboard-cross world champion Matti Suur-Hamari. Team USA’s Evan Strong (Maui, Hawaii) completed the podium with a bronze medal. Shea, the 2014 Paralympic silver medalist, praised his competition for pushing him to a challenging victory.

“That’s probably one of the most difficult wins I’ve had in my career,” Shea said. “I think that’s mostly because everyone is working so hard that you have to be on point every single run or you’re not going to make it in. I squeezed it in and I’m really happy and thankful.”

Roundy battled her U.S. teammate Megan Harmon (Huntsville, Alabama) in the women’s SB-LL1 class, but led the duration of the race to cross the finish line first on the technical course. With the win, the U.S. Paralympian added a gold medal to her bronze from the first world cup in Landgraaf, Netherlands. Roundy will hope to repeat her success in tomorrow’s race and at the next world cup in Big White, Canada.

“I was really happy about the way I raced today, so on a personal level that was great,” Roundy said. “It’ll help me go in confidently to Canada.”

The Netherland’s Paralympic and world champion Bibian Mentel-Spee proved once again why she is the best in the world in the women’s SB-LL2 division, returning to competition after having to miss the first world cup for cancer treatment.  She faced-off against Team USA’s Heidi Jo Duce (Ouray, Colorado) to win gold followed by her Dutch teammate Lisa Bunschoten with the bronze.

Amy Purdy (Las Vegas, Nevada) also made her return to the snow, finishing just off the podium in the SB-LL2 race. The 2014 Paralympic bronze medalist hopes to qualify for the U.S. team again after taking time off and is encouraged by the progress of her teammates.

“It’s motivation to see how far ahead everyone’s gotten and I’ll continue, in a sense, to just build on the positives of every day,” she said.

Fresh off X Games gold last weekend in Snowmobile Snocross Adaptive, Mike Schultz (Saint Cloud, Minnesota) returned to snowboard, adding world cup silver to his collection in men’s SB-LL1 behind world champion Chris Vos of the Netherlands.

After first being introduced to Paralympic snowboarding at last year’s NorAm Cup in Apsen, Vlad Kovalenko (Aspen, Colorado) won bronze in his world cup debut in the men’s upper limb impairment class (SB-UL).

Aspen Snowmass attracted over 30 athletes from nine countries for the second world cup of the season. Last year’s race in Aspen marked the debut of the head-to-head format in snowboard-cross, which pits two athletes against each other on the course after a timed qualification round.

Snowboard-cross races will culminate on Saturday at the IPC Snowboard World Cup in Apsen. Follow U.S. Paralympics on Facebook and Twitter for updates with full results available on the IPC website.