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Sochi Report, Alaska edition: Duncan eliminated early, Stassel goes from Sochi to Alyeska

Beth Bragg

STASSEL'S BACK!

The last time we saw Ryan Stassel, he was skiing in the semifinals of the slopestyle snowboarding competition at the Winter Olympics. On Saturday, you can catch him at Alyeska, where he'll put in an appearance at the Big Alaska snow series.

Stassel, 21, will be watching, not competing in, the bordercross and skicross races. Expect him to get a warm welcome, even if he's the reason some of the racers and race officials are sleep deprived.

Alison Sterley, director of the USASA Big Alaska Snow Series, said a lot of people in the snowboarding community stayed up late last week to watch Stassel's Olympic debut 13 times zones away in Sochi, Russia.

"They all had bags under their eyes the next day," she said.

Stassel finished sixth in his semifinal heat while at the same time giving Big Alaska a bit of a boost. Sterley said club membership dropped last winter, a subpar snow year, but numbers have returned to previous levels even though conditions have been challenging this year too.

"I attribute that a lot to having a homeboy at the Olympics," she said. "He's been racing with us since he was a child."

About 20 or 30 racers are expected to compete in what Sterley said are the only skicross and bordercross races of the season. Sign-up is from 9-10 a.m. daily at the Alyeska Day Lodge, with racing at noon.

ATTENTION EARLYBIRDS

The CrossBar, the new hockey-theme bar and grill in Midtown, will open early Friday for the USA-Canada men's hockey game. Faceoff is at 8 a.m.

DUNCAN'S DOWN

At least Dave Duncan got to compete this time.

Duncan, the former UAA alpine skier who has become a world-class skicross racer for Canada, was eliminated in the first heat Thursday at the Winter Olympics.

It was Duncan's second Olympics but his first time racing at one. In Vancouver four years ago, he broke his collarbone while training two days before his event.

On Thursday, Duncan posted the sixth-fastest qualifying time. He was in second place for awhile in the first heat of head-to-head competition, but he an awkward landing on a jump slowed him down and he never made up the lost time.

"Anything can happen," said Duncan, of London, Ontario. "That's the beauty of sport."

ATTA GIRL

Tracy Barnes, a biathlete who trained in Anchorage last summer with twin sister Lanny, was one of three recipients of the Fair Play Award given this week in Sochi by the International Fair Play Committee (CIFP).

Barnes was honored for a selfless act prior to the Olympics -- she gave her spot on the U.S. biathlon team to her sister, who was sick during the U.S. trials and was unable to qualify. Tracy said she thought the better athlete should go to Sochi.

"In sport there is winning and there is losing and sometimes in order to win you must lose or at least sacrifice the win. I didn't go to the Olympics to compete, but I feel I have won," Tracy said. "I had the most incredible experience of cheering my twin sister and best friend in the greatest sporting event in the world."

Also earning awards were Justin Wadsworth, a former U.S. Olympian who coaches Canada's cross country team, and Russia's cross-country team.

Wadsworth was recognized for his act of sportsmanship last week when he gave a ski pole to a Russian who was struggling to finish a race with a broken pole.

Russia's team was honored for coming to the assistance of the Germans after learning Germany's drilling machines were broken. Russia shared its machines, allowing the Germans to prepare their skis.

The International Fair Play Committee was created 51 years ago by UNESCO.

WHO'S ON DECK?

All times Alaska

Friday

Alpine skiing -- Women's slalom, first run 3:45 a.m., second run 7:15 a.m. (Anna Berecz)

Biathlon -- Women's relay, 5:30 a.m. (TBD)

Saturday, Feb. 22

Cross country -- Women's 30-K freestyle, 12:30 a.m. (TBD)

Cross country -- Men's 50-K freestyle, 10 p.m. (TBD)

RUSSIA 101

The Olympic gold medals haven't been made from pure gold since 1912. The Sochi gold medals contain 525 grams of silver and six grams of gold, according to NBC.

Based on current prices of gold and silver, a Sochi gold medal is worth about $583. A silver medal is worth about $338 and a bronze less than $5.

Written and compiled by Daily News sports editor Beth Bragg, with contributions from wire services and Nathaniel Herz, who is in Sochi for fasterskier.com and the Daily News

 


By BETH BRAGG
bbragg@adn.com
Contact Beth Bragg at bbragg@adn.com or on