PARK CITY — Winter X Games snowboarding champ Nick Baumgartner made a big mistake Saturday going into the most difficult turn on Doc's Run at Canyons Resort.
Rather than take out good buddy Jonathan Cheever, Baumgartner went down himself, allowing Cheever to finish unscathed in the Snowboarding Grand Prix and claim the U.S. title Saturday.
"The only way I could have survived that corner was if I would have released it up high and I would have pushed Cheever into the fences," Baumgartner said. "And I ain't doing that to him, not that guy. If I hadn't made a mistake, I would have had my chance. But I made a mistake and I'm not going to take him out because of my mistake."
Cheever finished second in the Grand Prix finals behind defending Canadian champion Kevin Hill. Only American racers qualified for the U.S. title this week, while foreign racers competed for the $10,000 first prize.
Lindsey Jacobellis cruised to victory in the ladies Snowboarding Grand Prix to capture the ladies U.S. title. Faye Gulini took third behind France's Deborah Anthonioz and earned the U.S. silver medal. Chloe Banning was fourth in the Grand Prix, but took bronze for the U.S.
Jayson Hale was fifth overall Saturday, but finished second in the U.S. men's standings followed by Kevin Leahy (sixth in the Grand Prix).
"I'm pumped to get the national title on my home mountain," said Cheever, who grew up near Boston but calls Park City home now. "My parents were here to see me. That makes it a little sweeter. We've got a lot of (World Cup) racing left in the season, so this is a good way to carry me through the end of ther year."
That he couldn't catch Hill didn't bother Cheever.
"(The U.S. title) means a lot because it was a stacked podium," Cheever said. "We had a former world champion, an Olympic bronze medalist and X Games silver medalist, so to be able to compete with those guys was great. Kevin Hill who won today was unstoppable. I think I was hanging, but I race him next week (at a World Cup event in Quebec) so I'm looking forward to it."
Cheever promised to pick up some of Baumgartner's bar tab for not taking him out on Turn 6 Saturday.
"It didn't look like he was laying on his edge and I was afraid he was just going to T-bone me and we were both going to end up in the netting," Cheever said. "Fortunately he had the mindset to just lay it down because I don't think he was finishing that turn either. I'm thankful for that because this sport can get a little dangerous. I'm glad he kept it safe today."
That didn't mean Baumgartner wasn't feeling the pain of hitting the hardpack.
Twelve days before the Winter X Games, Baumgartner broke his clavicle and had to have 15 screws and a plate inserted. He was able to compete two weeks ago and win the X Games title despite the injury.
"The clavicle feels good," Baumgartner said. "It's just everything around it that hurts. I'm getting knots in my back and sprained the area where my ribs come together. So I've been in some pain, but I'm having a blast."
He said it was great to race at the Canyons, and see some of the young riders compete and gain experience as "they're the futue of this sport."
Baumgartner planned to race next week in Quebec before taking three weeks off to rest his body and teach his young son how to ice skate.
Hill, meanwhile, was hoping to use Saturday's Grand Prix win to springboard him to another Canadian title in a few months.
"Every heat was totally stacked with Americans and I kept saying, 'Hold on, hold on' and just race to the bottom and I got it," Hill said. "It's super awesome."
Jacobellis, the 2011 Winter X Games champ and 2006 Olympic silver medalist, dominated at Saturday's Grand Prix. She got off to a fast start in the finals and won easily.
"I lost the championship jacket (last year), so this feels good to have it back and winning in the U.S. is always nice," she said.