With almost two metres of snow falling in Saas-Fee, Switzerland on the eve of the second World Cup halfpipe event of the season last weekend, riders were challenged by a bumpy pipe, gusting winds, poor visibility and numbing cold. The organizers were forced to cancel the second qualifying run due to the conditions, ending the day early for a lot of riders who needed another run to get used to the pipe. Riders in the finals also didn’t have a chance for a practice run.
“This wasn’t a safe event,” said halfpipe coach Tom Hutchinson. “The winds were strong and the visibility was poor. The weather conditions affected the outcome. Some of the best riders were eliminated in qualifying while others snuck into the final. It made for unusual results.”
Once again the top Canadian was Whistler’s Crispin Lipscomb, who made the finals in sixth place and finished eighth overall. While not the podium he was looking for, a top-10 result and a bronze medal in the first two events bode well for his goal of winning the overall halfpipe title this season.
“That was as tough an event I’ve seen in all my World Cup starts,” he said. “First of all it was an older 18-foot halfpipe, so it was small already without a foot and a half of snow on the bottom. It was also carved out of the glacier, so it was a mix of soft and hard, and the winds were up.
“I was onto something better (than eighth) but I made a mistake on my last trick and lost a point. Otherwise I’m quite happy, another top-10 is good. The rest of the team had a hard time, so I was glad to be able to put down something.”
For Lipscomb, two top-10 results is his strongest start on the tour. It’s also his third consecutive top-10, when you include his gold medal in the World Cup finals last season.
“I’m excited to see where it goest from here,” he said. “I’m feeling confident, I’m healthy, I’m doing some of my biggest airs and landing my tricks, so I’m feeling really good. Taking a year off to heal my collarbone and getting back to basics really hlepd me to come out strong.
Janne Korpi of Finland took the gold medal, followed by Kohdai Watanabe of Japan, and Ilkka-Eemeli Laari of Finland.
The Japanese team managed four spots in the top-10, and the Finnish team three riders.
None of the other Canadians in the contest finished in the top-30, with Justin Lamoureux 46 th , Brad Martin 49 th and Jeff Batchelor 65 th .
The team is back in Sea to Sky for the next few weeks, dryland training for the season, then will head to Copper Mountain in Colorado at the end of November to train for a Grand Prix at the end of the month. According to Lipscomb, the top two Canadian men from that event will be guaranteed spots on the World Championship team heading to Japan in February. The other two athletes will be selected at a camp at Calgary Olympic Park or Cypress Mountain in January.
On the women’s side, Jiayu Liu of China took the gold medal, followed by Shiho Nakashima of Japan and Sophie Rodriguez of France. No Canadians took part, with funding for only four men this season.
The International Skiing Federation recently launched a snowboard-specific website at www.fissnowboardworldcup.com, with results, reports, rankings, photos and video.