Canadas Jaysey-Jay Anderson, a four-time overall World Cup champion, has been playing catch-up for the past few years to the Swiss teams snowboard technology and training. Last year he customized his snowboard design to match the boards used by the Swiss team, and committed to training and racing on that technology even if the learning meant passing up his chance to win his fifth world cup title.
Hes had some success with the new technology, and won both the parallel giant slalom and parallel slalom events at the FIS Snowboard World Championships in Whistler last January.
Still, in the second World Cup event of the 2005-06 season, a parallel GS at Soelden, Austria last weekend, it was the Swiss riders that once again proved they were one step ahead. Anderson had some bad luck when he was assigned the course with the deeper ruts, but he refused to use that or his new equipment as an excuse.
"I beat myself," said the Mont Tremblant snowboarder. "I rode well on the difficult parts but I was mediocre on the flats. My result could have been better, and I wish it was, but theres one thing that Im satisfied with today I cant blame my equipment. Theres some small adjustments to make but Im close to my goal. Im about 90 per cent of where I want to be for the Olympics.
"Today was a day of experimenting and I had to make last minute adjustments because the snow had a lot of grip. However, I feel we accomplished something today and I feel ready for the upcoming races."
Anderson was eliminated in the round of 16 facing an all-Swiss field. In the end the top four spots went to Swiss riders, with Heinz Inniger edging Gilles Jaquet in the final, and Simon Schoch taking down brother Philipp Schoch in the small final for the bronze medal.
Anderson finished 13 th , while Canadas Philippe Berube was 26 th .
In the womens race the previous day, Richmonds Alexa Loo just missed the round of 16 to finish 17 th overall.
While that result was disappointing, Loo posted the fifth fastest time in the first round of racing, and "showed she could ride with the best," said coach Mark Fawcett.
"But if Alexa would have reached the final round she wouldnt have deserved it. She made too may mistakes on her second run and she knew it."
Kamloopss Aimee Newton, who races independently, was 35 th .
The gold medal went to Isabelle Blanc of France, followed by Amelie Kober of Germany and Daniela Meuli of Switzerland.
The World Cup racing season kicked off the previous week with the second annual indoor parallel slalom at Landgraaf, Netherlands. Anderson and Berube were 10 th and 40 th respectively for the men, while Loo was 29 th for the Canadian women.
There was also a World Cup Big Air contest the same week at Rotterdam, Netherlands. Sebastien Gagnon was the only Canadian, finishing 39 th , while the top three spots went to Risto Mattila of Finland, Stefan Gimpl of Austria and Janne Korpi of Finland.
The snowboard World Cup season continues this weekend in Saas-Fee, Switzerland with halfpipe and snowboardcross events. The full national team will take part, including several Whistler riders.