freeskiPalmer back in action at Winter X

MOUNT SNOW, Vt. -- A legend and a newcomer each took center stage during the Skier X finals at the fourth Winter X Games on Thursday.

Shaun Palmer
The Palm is back at Winter X.
Shaun Palmer raced to victory in the men's final, the fifth Winter X Games gold medal of his illustrious career. Anik Demers, an X Games rookie, captured her first gold medal in an exciting finish that went down to the wire.

On an afternoon that alternated between chilly and comfortable temperatures, the men and women came down Exhibition Run in groups of six to determine the six finalists in each event.

In the women's final heat, Demers trailed leader Chiara Lawrence for much of the race. Demers, who is from Quebec, used the final jump of the course to gain momentum to pass Lawrence. Demers passed Lawrence just yards before the finish line and won the final heat by a hair with a time of 49.200 seconds.

"I've been really strong in the bottom jumps all week," said Demers. "It happened so fast. The last jump made it happen."

The victory was even sweeter for Demers considering she dislocated her kneecap two weeks ago in Squaw Valley. She skipped the Gravity Games, and stayed away from competitive skiing until Wednesday's Skier X qualifying, when she finished fourth.

"I started skiing yesterday (Wednesday) and I felt really strong," she said. "(The qualifying) gave me confidence. My physical therapist and I worked so hard."

Palmer dominated all three of his heats on Thursday. In the final round, Palmer took the lead early and was never really threatened, completing the course in 44.439 seconds. Bill Hudson captured the silver medal, and Zack Crist took the bronze. Palmer's road to victory got a little smoother when Hudson and Shane McConkey (fifth) got tangled up trying to catch the leader during the race.

Patti Sherman-Kauf, who won the bronze in this event last year, finished third again this year in the women's race. Defending champion Aleisha Cline finished sixth after crashing in the finals.

Skier X Men finals
Finish Athlete
1st Shaun Palmer (winning time of 44.439 seconds)
2nd Bill Hudson
3rd Zack Crist
4th Richard Gay
5th Shane McConkey
6th Isidor Gruner
7th Jeremy Nobis
8th Eric Archer
9th Chris Davenport
10th Tomas Andersson
11th Stephane Tchiknavorian
12th Mike Dill
13th Janez Demsar
14th Emil Englund
15th Sverre Liliequist
16th Peter Lind
17th Eric Andersson
18th Enak Gavaggio
19th Kaj Zackrisson
20th Todd Kelly
21st Lois Koidl
22nd Matt Murphy
23rd Josh Loubek
24th Tyler Williams
Skier X Women finals
Finish Athlete
1st Anik Demers (winning time of 49.200 seconds)
2nd Chiara Lawrence
3rd Patti Sherman-Kauf
4th Noel Lyons
5th Carolyn Skyer
6th Aleisha Cline
7th Asia Jenkins
8th Missy Giove
9th Steph Turner
10th Kat Sweet
11th Gale Dahlager
12th Dawn McShinsky

 Shaun Palmer takes goal at Skier X.
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 Anik Demers wins a close race to take gold.
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 The action gets intense during the finals.
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 Aleisha Cline goes down hard during Skier X finals.
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 Anik Demers says it was a battle all the way.
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 Palmer is proud to take the gold in Skier X.
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 Shane McConkey describes Shaun Palmer as an "alien."
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