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Canadians Sweep Snowboard Events

January 9, 1999

COPPER MOUNTAIN, Colo. (AP) _ Mayumi Fukuda won the women’s snowboard cross event in a photo finish Friday and Drew Neilson took the men’s contest by a wider margin as Canadians dominated.

The race jury looked at photos and footage of the finish before giving Fukuda the verdict over Julie Zell of Jackson, Wyo. Fukuda and Neilson earned $10,000 apiece.

Snowboard cross is a combination of Alpine racing and freestyle as riders start four or six in a group, then race down a course that includes bumps, banked turns and other obstacles.

``When I saw it, I knew that course was just made for me,″ Fukuda said. ``Copper did a great job because the course had everything _ air (jumps), speed, obstacles, lots of steep sections.″

The 25-year-old Canadian survived a near spill at the finish as she looked back to check on her three pursuers in the final round and fell back on her board. Zell charged as Fukuda stumbled and they hit the finish together, with local favorite Sara Osterberg not far astern.

``I didn’t believe I’d won until I got the check,″ Fukuda said.

Neilson edged newcomer Adam Smith of Bend, Ore., who was competing in his first snowboard cross. Ben Wainwright of Canada was third.

``I never figured I’d make it through the first heat,″ Smith said. ``I just tried to relax and enjoy it. It was fun.″

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