Canada is considered one of the strongest countries in snowboardcross, but that reputation didn’t translate to any medals at Arosa, Switzerland last weekend, the first World Cup race since events in South America at the end of the summer.
On the women’s side, Dominique Maltais placed fifth, winning the small final after missing the cut in the semi-finals. Whistler’s Maëlle Ricker, the reigning World Cup champion, also missed the cut and finished her day in eighth place.
“I’m really mad with what happened because I was riding well the past three days,” said Maltais. “It’s bordercross and some girls did some strange racing on the course. You have to live with that but today I’m having trouble accepting it.”
Maltais, who was third in the 2006 Winter Games, was the fastest rider in the qualifiers and won every round until the semi-final. She was particularly unhappy about the riding of Sandra Frei and Simona Meiler of Switzlerand for blocking her passing attempts in the semi-final.
“I didn’t have very good starts but I knew I was fast on the rest of the course,” she said. “It was important for me to capitalize on my passing opportunities on such a short course.”
On the positive side, Maltais is completely recovered from the wrist injury she sustained in September while racing in Argentina. “Physically I feel great,” she said. “I need to improve technically.”
Sandra Frei went on to win the race, followed by Helene Olafsen of Norway and Nelly Moenne Loccoz of France. Lindsey Jacobellis, arguably the girl to beat at any race, was ninth. As for the other Canadians, Michelle Brodeur was 16 th , and Ziggy Cowan 33 rd .
While the men didn’t manage any podiums, three made the top-10.
Seth Wescott of the U.S. took the win, followed by Markus Schairer of Austria and David Speiser of Germany.
Canadians Tom Velisek, Francois Boivin and Mike Robertson were seventh, eighth and ninth respectively, while Robert Fagan was 20 th , Jake Holden 26 th , and Jasey-Jay Anderson 31 st .
Boivin looked to be a contender early with a fast qualifier time and a win in the Round of 16 before being eliminated in the quarter-finals.
“There was a lot of snow, my board was fast and I was in a section where I was riding really fast,” he said. “I got a little impatient and I went too much to the right in a passing attempt. I wound up in some big, soft snow.
“There isn’t much difference between first and 10 th place. Anyone in the top-10 could have won today. It was very close. You couldn’t afford any errors.”
Boivin missed most of last season with a concussion, but is off to a good start with a 13 th place in the opening race in Argentina to go with his ninth place at Arosa.
The following day the Canadian alpine team took on a dual slalom. The team had a lot to live up to with three podiums the previous week, but had to settle for consistency.
On the women’s side Kimiko Zakreski of Calgary placed fifth after losing a duel to Heidi Neururur of Austria, the eventual winner, in the quarterfinal. Zakreski earned a silver medal the previous week, her first World Cup podium and only the second podium in history for a Canadian racer.
“I felt some pressure to win a medal again but I’m still pleased with my day,” she said. “I’m looking forward to the next competition.”
Neururer edged out Michelle Gorgone of the U.S. for the gold medal, while Isabella Laboeck of Germany ousted Johanna Shaw of Australia for the bronze.
Alexa Loo was a respectable 11 th for Canada, and Caroline Calve was 20 th .
On the men’s side the win went to Siegfried Grabner of Austria, followed by Roland Fischnaller of Italy and Zan Kosir of Slovenia.
The top Canadian was Jasey-Jay Anderson in sixth place, while teammate Matthew Morison was ninth.
“For once I wasn’t slowed by equipment problems,” said Anderson. “But I wanted to do better. I was still feeling the effects from Saturday’s snowboardcross race. That’s pretty common when you’ve been riding for five straight days including the training. It’s too bad because the course was good and the conditions were to my advantage. But I knew it was a big risk to race yesterday.”
Anderson said he would focus less on snowboardcross and more on alpine World Cup events.
Morison was the fastest rider in the qualifier, but fell in the first round to finish ninth. He remains third in the overall standings until the World Cup circuit resumes on Jan. 6 in Austria.