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Baird, MacDougall earn Halaw wins

Young snowboarders beat out veterans in Skier’s Plaza

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With difficult spring conditions challenging snowboarders during the Halaw Snowboard Invitational in Skier’s Plaza on April 12, competitors were finding it difficult to land two scoring runs in the five attempts they were afforded.

Men’s champ Jack MacDougall, however, landed all but his last one as he held off early favourite Mark McMorris to secure the win on a slushy hill.

MacDougall, a native of Grande Prairie, Alta., saw his first and third runs stand for a combined score of 179.50. McMorris, meanwhile, failed to land his first two tries, put down the day’s best attempt (94.25) in Run 3, but couldn’t find a complementary second score as he finished as the runner-up with a 174.50. Francis Jobin was third with a 171.75.

MacDougall has excelled at World Ski and Snowboard Festival big air events in the past, placing second to Max Parrot in 2018. Facing a similarly stacked field this time, the 18-year-old topped not only McMorris, but national team athletes in Darcy Sharpe and Mikey Ciccarelli to snare the $20,000 first prize.

“It feels so good. Riding with my idols, Darcy and Mark, it feels so good to be on a similar level as them,” he said. “(Taking second last year) helped me with confidence a lot. I knew the jump and I knew what I wanted to do on it. I knew what I could do on it, so it helped me out.”

MacDougall’s best-scoring run, his third, included a back 1440, which he was admittedly nervous to bust out, but the 92.75 score proved to be worth it in the end.

On the women’s side, youth was again served as Jasmine Baird of Georgetown, Ont. eked out a win over defending champion Julia Marino of the United States.

The 19-year-old Baird steadily grew her score in each of her first four runs, with her third and fourth attempts combining for a 142.00. Marino only landed one of her first four tries, saving her best for last. However, her fifth-run score of 75.25 gave her a combined score that placed her 0.25 points behind Baird.

Third-place finisher Laurie Blouin came out blazing, landing the top run out of all the women with an 80.75 on her first attempt. However, none of her remaining attempts could match it as she ultimately tallied a 131.25. Baird explained that she wasn’t feeling particularly confident coming into the competition, as she struggled to put down runs in practice with constantly shifting conditions. However, she found her groove when it mattered, earning herself a $20,000 payday.

“The jumps changed twice since yesterday’s practice, so it was hard but I’m really happy with how it turned out,” Baird said after Friday’s victory. “The first change was a bit scary. It was kicky, so that was a bit of a nightmare. After that, it was a lot better.

“The hardest part was getting through the landing and making it all the way down. It was really slushy and there were a lot of holes in there, but the run in was good and the take-off was pretty solid.”

Baird said when her cab underflip impressed the judges on her third attempt, she started to feel as though a victory could be within her grasp. Big air action continues on Saturday with the Sp’akwus Ski Invitational in Skier’s Plaza at 4 p.m.

Full results are online at www.wssf.com.

Canadians putting up strong showings at Whistler Cup

Also in town is the 27th Whistler Cup, and Canadians are showing their skills.

In the April 12 U16 women’s giant slalom, Canada’s Arianne Forget dominated the field, holding off Israel’s Noa Szollos and fellow Canadian Britt Richardson for the win. Whistler Mountain Ski Club representatives suiting up for Team BC were: Sara Stiel (15th); Jaden Dawson (20th); Emeline Bennett (22nd); and Fiona McInnes (30th).

In the men’s GS, Norwegians took the top two spots on the podium as Tollef Jostein Haugen bested Hermann Fjeldaville Linberg, while Chile’s Manuel Horwitz took third. WMSC athletes in the top 30 were: Chase Burns (12th); Sam Fuller (14th); Adam Usher (20th); John Nicolls (24th); and Duncan Ross (28th).

The 16s kicked off competition on April 11 with the super-G. Norway put two on the podium with Johs Herland taking the victory and Haugen placing third to sandwich Canadian Alexis Barabe in second. Burns was the top local in 11th, while Matthias Shorter was 15th, Nicolls took 21st, Ross was 28th and Fuller wound up 30th.

As for the women, Forget was the winner, topping Szollos and Norway’s Emilie Bakkevig. Stiel again led the local contingent in 14th with Bennett (16th), Dawson (19th) and McInnes (23rd) all cracking the top 30.

In U14 action on April 12, Madison Donnelly of Ontario 2 earned the women’s slalom victory, besting New Zealand’s Mikayla Smyth and Quebec’s Noémie Longchamps. Two locals on Team BC, Alexa Brownlie and Erin Husken, cracked the top 10 in sixth and eighth, respectively.

The U14 men, meanwhile, completed their team relay event. Ontario bested a combined team from Red Mountain and Fernie in the big final while a squad made up of racers from Slovakia, Japan and South Korea topped a squad from Craigleith and Caledon for third place. Locals had representatives on three teams, with the team of Maxus Mountford, Braden Aitken, August Goldberg, Andrew Forsgren, Joshua Hon and Cameron Macdonald making it to the consolation quarterfinals before bowing out.

Full results are online at www.whistlercup.com.

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