THST: Gavaggio wins SX, Hayer nets season title


Mad dogs and Englishmen relish climatic aberrations, and so do buffs of professional skiercross. Amid California springlike snow conditions and sunny skies, Enak Gavaggio showed his chops to finally finish atop the podium at Squaw Valley after three consecutive third-place finishes in The Honda Ski Tour.
    Stanley Hayer, who entered the final contest on top of the leaderboard, hung on to finish second and win the overall Honda Ski Tour title on Sunday.


SQUAW VALLEY, California — Mad dogs and Englishmen relish climatic aberrations, and so do buffs of professional skiercross. Amid California springlike snow conditions and sunny skies, Enak Gavaggio showed his chops to finally finish atop the podium at Squaw Valley after three consecutive third-place finishes in The Honda Ski Tour.
    Stanley Hayer, who entered the final contest on top of the leaderboard, hung on to finish second and win the overall Honda Ski Tour title. A steamed and forlorn Tomas Kraus finished third while a stunned Casey Puckett placed fourth. In the consolation bracket, Vail’s Chris DelBosco double-downed on the last set of rollers to squeeze past Lars Lewen on the final gate before the finish line to take fifth place.
    “I’m very happy to have finally won a race. I’ve been so close every time,” said Gavaggio, winner of six X Games medals. “I’m also glad I survived.”
    Puckett won the first two tour stops, but Hayer's second place on Sunday gave him the season championship with 340 points. Puckett finished second and Gavaggio third in the season standings.
    Daron Rahlves finished eighth in the season standings despite not competing in the final two events (Snowmass and Squaw) after injuring himself in a Snowmass training run.
    Gavaggio, the diminutive Frenchman, was the only racer in the field who had raced the Squaw Valley course beforehand when he placed fourth at the 2000 World Skiercross Championships. Nothing could have prepared him for Sunday’s fierce competition. From first heat to the last, there was enough carnage to shame Caligula.
    An injured Rahlves, disappointed he couldn’t race on his hometown hill, had nonetheless helped The Ski Tour skiercross builder Corley Howard tweak the design of the course from the previous three events to make Squaw Valley’s competition the most challenging of the tour. Starting from the same Siberia chairlift ridgeline that once served as the start for the 1960 Winter Olympic downhill, racers negotiated a line down a 55-second-long course full of high-speed cranking turns and big airs.
    In the first quarterfinal heat of the afternoon, U.S. Ski Team alumni Travis Svensrud collided violently with Norway’s Audun Groenvold on the lower portion of their run after racers became entangled in a collapsing Red Bull arch. Both suffered upper extreme trauma and were hurried down the mountain in ski patrol sleds to Squaw Valley’s medical center.
    The final heat of the afternoon offered eye-popping crashes from start to finish. At the first turn, Puckett, who entered the race in second place overall, clipped the tails of a charging Kraus. The resulting explosion resembled and sounded like the demolition of a high-rise building.
    “I’d had a horrible start. I was dead last,” said Hayer. “When those two went down, I knew they weren’t going to get back up. They opened the door for me.”
    Hayer chased Gavaggio all the way down, finally catching up near the final set of rollers. Although he could have played it safe knowing Puckett was out of the race, the former Canadian World Cup alpine racer tried to take the same line DelBosco had successfully skied near the finish, only to hit Gavaggio in mid-air. Their collision flipped the two surviving racers off-course into the gate. Hayer lost his ski. Gavaggio struggled upright and dragged himself across the finish line to a crowd of aghast yet screaming spectators.
    Hayer poled himself across the finish followed a few minutes later by a recovered Kraus. Puckett, obviously suffering from a concussion, somehow skied down after falling horribly again all by his lonesome near the course’s tabletop section. Later, bruised and bloodied, he could neither recall the crash, nor how he got down the hill, or even where he was.
    “The crash with Enak was my fault. I had a good line off the last triple. I had him. I just went two meters too far and hit him,” said Hayer.
    Tour champion Hayer’s second-place finish and 340 points added to earnings reaching $70,000. He also drives away with a Honda Element VX model worth another $25,000. Puckett finished the tour in second with 300 points and $60,000 in prize money. Gavaggio’s win allowed him to finish in third place with 249 points and $40,500 in earnings.
    “I’ve been driving a beat-up GMC Safari with 400,000 miles on it,” said a pumped-up Hayer. “I’m styling now. I’m going to drive it straight across the border.” 


The Honda Ski Tour
Squaw Valley — Skiercross – Final Results  
 
1ST PLACE    Enak Gavaggio – FRA
2ND PLACE    Stanley Hayer – CAN
3RD PLACE    Tomas Kraus – CZE
4TH PLACE    Casey Puckett – USA
5TH PLACE    Chris DelBosco – USA
6TH PLACE    Brian Bennett – USA
7TH PLACE    Errol Kerr – USA
8TH PLACE    Lars Lewen – SWE
9TH PLACE    Davey Barr – CAN
10TH PLACE    Audun Gronvold – NOR
11TH PLACE    Robin Lenel – FRA
12TH PLACE    Cody Smith – USA
13TH PLACE    Travis Svensrud – USA
14TH PLACE    Olivier Fabre – FRA
15TH PLACE    Klaus Waldner – AUT
16TH PLACE    Lucca Cattaneo – ITA

FINAL
SEED    NAME
SF1  – 1ST    Enak Gavaggio – FRA
SF2 – 1ST    Tomas Kraus – CZE
SF1 – 2ND    Stanley Hayer – CAN
SF2 – 2ND    Casey Puckett – USA
   
CONSOLATION
SEED    NAME
SF1 – 3RD    Errol Kerr – USA
SF2 – 3RD    Brian Bennett – USA
SF1 – 4TH    Lars Lewen – SWE
SF2 – 4TH    Chris DelBosco – USA

SEMIFINAL 1   

SEED    NAME   
1A – 1st    Stanley Hayer – CAN    2
1B – 1st    Tomas Kraus – CZE    1
1A – 2nd    Lars Lewen – SWE    4
1B – 2nd    Brian Bennett – USA    3
       
SEMIFINAL 2   
SEED    NAME   
1C – 1st    Casey Puckett – USA    2
1D – 1st    Enak Gavaggio – FRA    1
1C – 2nd    Errol Kerr – USA    3
1D – 2nd    Chris DelBosco – USA    4

HEATS
Round 1A 
  
SEED    NAME   
1    Stanley Hayer – CAN    1
8    Brian Bennett – USA    2
12 
   Cody Smith – USA    4
16    Lucca Cattaneo – ITA    3
       
Round 1B   
SEED    NAME   
4    Lars Lewen – SWE    2
5    Tomas Kraus – CZE    1
9    Audun Gronvold – NOR   
13    Travis Svensrud – USA   
       
Round 1C   
SEED    NAME   
3    Enak Gavaggio – FRA    1
6    Davey Barr – CAN    4
10    Chris DelBosco – USA    2
14    Olivier Fabre – FRA    3
       
Round 1D   
SEED    NAME   
2    Casey Puckett – USA    1
7    Errol Kerr – USA    2
11    Robin Lenel – FRA    3
15    Klaus Waldner – AUT    4

PAUL MITCHELL DARK HORSE       
SEED    NAME       
15    Klaus Waldner – AUT        1
17    Lucca Cattaneo – ITA        2
18    Sam Shallow – USA        4
19    Trevor Ricioli – USA        3

Overall Tour Standings 2007                
               
    Athlete     Points     Earnings    
               
1    Stanley Hayer    340    $70,000.00   
2    Casey Puckett    300    $60,000.00   
3    Enak Gavaggio    249    $40,500.00   
4    Tomas Kraus    185    $18,250.00
5    Lars Lewen    163    $18,500.00
6    Zach Crist    116    $4,000.00
7    Davey Barr    113    $3,000.00
8    Daron Rahlves    95    $7,750.00
9    Chris DelBosco    87    $3,750.00
10    Travis Svensrud    81    $1,750.00
11    Cody Smith    76    $2,000.00
12    Jake Fiala    68    $2,250.00
13    Justin Glick    59    $1,500.00
14    Klaus Waldner    52    $1,500.00
15    Carl Rixon    50    $5,000.00
16    David Lamb    44    $1,000.00
17    Luca Cattaneo    41    $1,000.00
18    Brian Bennett    40    $1,500.00
19    Errol Kerr    36    $1,000.00
20    Roman Hofer    32    $750.00
21    Jean Rudigoz    26    $500.00
22    Audun Gronvold    26    $500.00
23    Robin Lenel     24    $500.00
24    Eric Ijans    22    $500.00
25    Eric Archer    20    $500.00
26    Click Bloomfield    18    $500.00
27    Tahir Bisic    18    $500.00
28    Olivier Fabre    18    $500.00
29    Christian Questad    16    $500.00
30    Kyle Sul    15    $500.00

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