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Snowboarding - Boardercross

The object of boardercross is pretty simple - first one down the mountain wins. Boarders race each other down an obstacle course where they'll hit nasty turns, big air and maybe even each other.

The ultimate winner of an event is decided through elimination rounds with the top two finishers in each four or six-boarder heat moving on to the next round - the rest pick up their board and go home. "The key to winning is being the first one out of the gates," says Drew Nielson, who is one of the top-ranked riders on the FIS Boardercross Tour. "It can be tough because you never know what the other riders are gonna do. They could accidently clip you and then your race is over, so you have to be careful how aggressively you race and when you decide to pass," adds Drew.

Boardercross is great for the spectator because the races are so fast and there's always good wipeouts as riders try to maneuver around tight turns and pass each other in mid-air. Despite the excitement of boardercross, you won't catch the sport at the Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City. "Boardercross isn't ready. It's too young and the standards aren't high enough yet. There's still lots of wipeouts and knockdowns which could give the sport a black mark if it were at the Olympics now," says Drew. Boardercross may make it to the Olympics as a demonstration sport in 2006 or 2010 - but for now the biggest event for boardercrossers is the Winter X-Games which run from January 17 - 20, 2002 in Aspen, Colorado.

Racing boardercross is a great way to learn how to make tight turns, control your speed and stay balanced on your board. You may spend some time eating snow along the way but that's what makes the sport so fun. Most good ski hills have boardercross programs for kids, so be sure to ask next time you're up at the mountain.

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