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Last Updated: Friday, 17 February 2006, 10:23 GMT
Snowboard cross 'here to stay'
By Anna Thompson
BBC Sport at the Winter Olympics

Snowboard cross is a no-holds-barred rollercoaster ride
Snowboard cross is a no-holds-barred rollercoaster ride
Snowboard cross has got the Winter Olympics buzzing on its debut this year and BBC commentator Graham Bell says it can only get bigger and better.

American Seth Wescott won the men's gold on Thursday, just pipping Slovakia's Radoslav Zidek, while the women's event saw Swiss Tanja Frieden win a dramatic gold.

Bell, the reigning British ski cross title holder, said the sport's appeal lies in its thrills and spills and no-holds-barred, winner-takes-all attitude.

He said: "It is a high adrenalin sport and that is what viewers love to watch. You are racing for your life and it is very exciting."

You cannot mentally prepare a good run like in downhill skiing
Graham Bell

The event is similar to motocross or BMX, in that competitors race against each other on a course studded with bumps, jumps and turns.

Although only snowboard cross was featured at Turin 2006, Bell believes there is a strong possibility skier-cross will be given Olympic status in Vancouver in four years time.

"If boarder-cross is a big success like it looks as though it is, I can definitely see skier-cross being added," he said.

"The course is already built for the snowboarders so that would not be a problem."

The 40-year-old, a veteran of five Winter Olympics, competed in the British skier-cross championships held at Laax in Switzerland last March, and used all his experience to win the title.

"It is so frenetic and you have to think on your feet, you have to look behind you and assess what is going on, decide when is the best time to attempt to pass," he said.

"The best bet is to get out into the lead and stay out of trouble but that is easier said than done.

"You cannot mentally prepare a good run like in downhill skiing, in this you have to mentally prepare for when it goes wrong."

Although it looks like a complete lottery to the spectator, Bell said the competitors are highly skilled at their starts and passing manoeuvres.

"In time I can certainly see downhill skiers competing in this event," he said.

"I just wish I was 15 years younger or that it had been around in my competitive days because it really is fantastic."

Zoe Gillings snowboard masterclass


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