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Canadian boarders on top in world juniors

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The future looks bright for the Canadian Snowboard Federation.

The Canadian team, led by Quebec rider François Boivin, brought home two medals and another four top 10 results from the FIS Junior World Championship in Ruka, Finland, last weekend. To qualify, riders had to be 18 or younger at the start of the 2002 season.

In the parallel giant slalom on April 5, Boivin was flawless from the start, blowing past his competitors in every heat to be crowned the junior 2002 PGS World Champion.

"This competition is really fun, a great experience that I can share with friends from around the world, that are within our age group," said Boivin. "This result is very important to me because it closes my season on a very high note."

The week before, the 19-year-old from Jonquiére, Quebec, finished third in the Canadian championships. Last year he was fifth in the FIS junior championships, and first overall in the ISF Junior World Championships.

This year he said the quality of the competition had improved significantly compared to previous years.

"It gives me great confidence that I can compete on the FIS World Cup circuit next year," he said.

Rudy Galli of Italy and Eric Warren of the U.S. were second and third in the PGS. Other Canadians include Phillipe Bérubé of Quebec in eighth place, Colin Bell of Ontario in 28 th , and Mike Robertson of Alberta in 31 st .

In the women’s PGS, Heidi Kirings of Austria was first, followed by Michelle Gorgone of the U.S. and Marion Insam of Italy.

Kimiko Zakreski of Alberta was the top Canadian in 12 th position. Marie-Pier Genest of Quebec, Desiree Labrecque of B.C., and Hélene Cloutier of Quebec were 27 th , 35 th and 45 th respectively.

On April 6, Canada put three riders in the top 10 in the halfpipe event. In the women’s competition, Sarah Conrad of Nova Scotia and Amy Vaillancourt of Quebec were seventh and eighth overall after two runs. Natalie Sawyer of Alberta, the only other Canadian in the contest, finished in 20 th place.

Hannah Teter of the U.S. was the winner, followed by Heiki Kurkinen of Finland and Audrey Achard of France.

In the men’s competition, Adam Baldick of Alberta was the top Canadian in 10th place overall, although he was in fourth heading into the finals.

The gold medal in that event went to another American, Steven Fisher. Sergio Berger of Switzlerland won the silver medal and Mathieu Crepel of France took bronze.

Also for Canada, Hugo Lemay, Charles Gagnon and Boivin were 30 th , 45 th and 51 st respectively.

Although the halfpipe is clearly not his forte, Boivin was back in form the following day in the Snowboard cross event.

Boivin raced well until the finals, where he might have taken the silver medal if not for a gap in the last few metres of the race. Thinking he had it wrapped up, he raised his arms in victory heading into the finish – he overcame a bad start, his only bad start of the day, to get into the silver medal position. Just then Janne Keinanen of Finland flew past him, leaving Boivin to the bronze medal.

"I can’t believe it," he said in a post-race interview.

Anne Bernard, the co-ordinator for the Canadian Snowboard Federation junior team, shrugged off the gaff as a learning experience. "Francois will put this experience in his bag of memories and be a stronger rider on the World Cup circuit next season. He learns and grows with every race."

Also for Canada, Jordan Tetreau was 26 th , Hugo Lemay 44 th , Mike Robertson 52 nd , Phillipe Berube 57 th , Colin Bell 75 th and Charles Gagnon 81 st .

Lindsey Jacobellis of the U.S. won the women’s competition, followed by Tanja Uhlmann and Corinne Mottu of Switzlerland.

Amy Vaillancourt, Andrea Halpen, Natalie Sawyer and Desiree Labrecque were 15 th , 21 st , 32 nd and 34 th for Canada.

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