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Noah Elliott Leads U.S. Para Snowboard Team With Gold, Silver Medals In Pyha World Cup

by Stephen Kerr

Noah Elliott celebrates finishing the men's snowboardcross UL small final at the Paralympic Winter Games PyeongChang 2018 on March 12, 2018 in PyeongChang, South Korea.


With temperatures hovering below zero ahead of this weekend’s Para snowboardcross world cup in Pyha, Finland, the U.S. athletes knew keeping snow on the ground wouldn’t be a problem during the weekend competition.
The team was treated to an off-day on Thursday that included a potluck dinner, followed by a training day on Friday before the start of racing on Saturday.
It wasn’t quite the medal haul of 16 that Team USA collected at the banked slalom world cup season opener late last month in Landgraaf, Netherlands, but the Americans still got their share of hardware on a particularly challenging course with one gold, one silver and three bronze medals.
Noah Elliott led the way for Team USA, with the 2018 Paralympic gold medalist claiming a silver medal Saturday and then a gold medal Sunday. Fellow Paralympic medalists Keith Gabel and Mike Minor added bronze medals on Saturday, while Evan Strong took a bronze on Sunday.
Elliott, competing in the men’s LL1 classification, opened things up by finishing second in Saturday’s race, behind only Chris Vos of the Netherlands.
Gabel raced in the LL2 division, where he trailed only Ben Tudhope of Australia and Alex Massie of Canada. Gabel’s performance came on the heels of a successful season opener in Landgraaf when he captured a gold and silver medal. In typical sportsmanlike fashion, the two-time Paralympic medalist was quick to give props to the competitors who finished ahead of him.
“All the heats were really tight battles with a couple photo finishes,” Gabel wrote on Instagram. “Congrats to @bentudhope (gold medal) and Alex Bubz Massie @bubzurchin (silver medal). You boys rode hard all day and put down some heater runs. Pumped to be up there with you.”



Minor also took to the podium with a bronze on day one in men’s UL. But the medal wasn’t the only thing he was stoked about. His fiancée, who just happens to be from Finland, was in attendance along with her parents. To top it off, Minor’s other most loyal companion got to experience the moment with him as well.

“My dog ‘Dinky’ is a rescue from Leadville, Colorado, who travels the globe with me,” Minor told World Para Snow Sports. “We are best friends and there’s rarely a time you will see us apart one and another.”

Other notable finishes on the first day included Strong (fourth, men’s LL2), Thomas Wilson (eighth, men’s LL1), and Zach Miller (10th, men’s LL2).

Elliott stepped up to the top position on Sunday, this time earning gold in men’s LL1.

Strong followed with a bronze in men’s LL2, behind Finland’s Matti Suur-Hamari and Tudhope.

Elliott raised his medal count to four after the first two world cup events of the 2021-22 season, following his two bronze medals in Landgraaf.

“Stoked to walk away from Pyha with a 2-1st!” Elliott wrote. “Looking forward to making some pow laps in Austria!”



Strong, who captured silver in Landgraaf, is also ready for the next challenge.

“I am pleased to lock in a podium today after some tough racing,” he told his Instagram followers. “Now it’s time to pack up and head to Austria for some more racing.”



The challenging course caused a number of riders to crash during the weekend competition. Minor experienced a fall that kept him from the podium on Sunday, but he still managed to finish in the top 10 by placing eighth. Other notable performances included Michael Spivey (fifth, men’s UL); Garrett Geros (sixth, men’s LL2); Wilson (sixth, men’s LL1); and Joe Pleban (ninth, men’s LL2).

Team USA has a total of 21 medals after two world cup events this season. The next stop on the world cup circuit is Dec. 17-19 with two banked slalom races in Hochfuegen, Austria.

Stephen Kerr is a freelance journalist and newsletter publisher based in Austin, Texas. He is a contributor to on behalf of Red Line Editorial, Inc.