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Massachusetts native prepares for FIS World Snowboarding Championships

Seth Wescott and Saugus-raised Jonathan Cheever are at Stoneham in Quebec for the FIS World Snowboarding Championships.

Held every two years, Wescott is the defending silver finisher in snowboardcross from the 2011 La Molina, Spain, contest.

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“This is a chance to kind of put yourself in a little bit of a mental pressure cooker for the day against the best in the world and see what you get done,” said Maine’s double Olympic gold medalist.

Wescott, competing in his sixth straight world championship in snowboardcross, says the Worlds are the second-most prestigious event for him next to the Olympics. He says he decided to compete at the Worlds, scheduled the same time as the Winter X Games, before the ’cross sports — snowboard, ski, and snowmobile — were dropped this season.

Wescott believes his sport will return to the X Games, perhaps as early as next year. ESPN is rolling out five X Games in winter and summer this year. He credits ESPN for helping to create skiercross and snowboardcross while understanding that making snow and maintaining and grooming the large course is a large financial commitment during the global expansion.

“To me, this is a short-term thing but it is frustrating for those kids young to the sport who are just getting on the tour,” he said.

Stoneham’s been a hot spot for Cheever, who has reached the podium in three of five World Cup stops there since 2008. The Malden Catholic High School grad placed sixth in Austria in December.

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“I’m looking for a fourth podium there this weekend,” said Cheever about the Sunday race. “Aiming for gold. Anything else will be a disappointment.”

Cheever can’t say exactly what gives him a kind of home advantage except that it’s a place his family and friends come to cheer him on.

“There are about 30 guys who can be on the podium on any day,” he said. “I think this is the most competitive sport in all of Alpine World Cup.”

The 2011 national champ says he’s really happy where his riding is at the moment.

Cheever is also working on a documentary with filmmaker Brett Wiese and his Austrian Snowboard Team girlfriend, Maria Ramberger, called “SBX The Movie,” following the snowboardcross scene to the Sochi Games.

Pearce on hand

Kevin Pearce attended the premiere of the documentary “The Crash Reel” at the Sundance Film Festival last week. The film details the rise and remarkable recovery of the Vermont-grown snowboarder as he prepared for the 2010 Vancouver Olympics only to suffer severe brain trauma from a Park City halfpipe training run crash Dec. 31, 2009. Pearce is an advocate for the National Down Syndrome Society — his brother has the syndrome — and the prevention of traumatic brain injuries.

Chilling effect

So, how cold is it? So cold Wildcat in Pinkham Notch, N.H., closed Wednesday and Thursday, posting on its website, “For Wednesday, the forecast is calling for ambient temps in negative double digits and minus-48 windchill daytime.” That’s cold. The ’Cat expects to open Friday. On Wednesday, other mountains such as Killington, Jay Peak, and Sunday River altered lift operations because of bitter cold and wind . . . The Appalachian Mountain Club’s new Joe Dodge Lodge Demo Center in Pinkham Notch allows guests to test equipment. They’ve also partnered with Jackson XC, Great Glen Trails, Attitash, and Wildcat for ski and stay packages . . . Skiers with electric and hybrid cars can charge up at Mount Abram. The Greenwood, Maine, ski area recently installed two 220-volt E/V charging stations near the main lodge . . . With the Patriots not reaching the Super Bowl, New Hampshire ski areas still have enticing Feb. 3 deals, such as two for $70 tickets at Cannon, two-for-one at Gunstock with a food item, and online deals at Bretton Woods ($30, limited) and Cranmore $47 . . . Okemo opened its superpipe Tuesday, measuring 570 feet in length with 18-foot walls . . . Wachusett hosts a Masters Race Clinic Friday led by coaches such as Masters national champion Nadine Price for skiers ages 18-plus looking to try ski racing . . . The 17th annual CSC Jimmy Fund Snow Challenge is Feb. 2 at Nashoba. The event has raised more than $380,000 . . . Shawnee Peak’s new All New England Ski Day means $19 lift tickets for New Englanders Feb. 8 and March 8 at the Bridgton, Maine, facility.

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