The top snowboarders from across B.C. converged at Big White this past weekend for the final event of the B.C. Snowboard Series, taking part in slopestyle, halfpipe and snowboardcross events.
Some of Whistler’s top boarders opted to stay in town to try their luck at the Sapient Showcase Showdown, but more than 20 athletes, and most of the competitive riders from the Whistler Valley Snowboard Club, headed to Kelowna.
In the opening slopestyle, WVSC rider Stevie Kopyt placed first in the 14 and Under category, just 0.4 points ahead of teammate Brin Alexander. Cody Wilson was fifth out of a field of 20 riders.
In the 15 to 18 group, Jon Versteeg of Whistler placed second out of 27 riders. Kota Kagoshima and Tsuyoshi Zaitai were 19 th and 20 th respectively.
In the halfpipe Brin Alexander placed first overall, while Stevie Kopyt placed third in the Under 14 group. Kota Kagoshima, who also trains with the WVSC, won the 19 and Over category by 5.5 points.
For the snowboardcross, Stephanie Johnston of Squamish placed second in the women’s 19 and Over group.
The WVSC’s Wade McCracken was third in the men’s 14 and Under race. In the 15 to 18 group, Kota Kagoshima was fourth and Tsuyoshi Zaitai eighth.
For men competing in the FIS category, Whistler’s Adam Livingstone placed first out of 32 riders.
The next event for local athletes is the You Look Good Riders Cup at Sun Peaks, taking place March 15-16.
Rob Picard, head of the WVSC, says his group is riding well this season.
“The progress has just been amazing, even for the riders that were already pretty good coming into the season,” he said.
One of the differences has been the addition of the WVSC’s academy program, where athletes from out of town are enrolled in the club fulltime while doing distance learning by computer.
“We’re getting a lot more competitive kids from out of town with a lot of drive that are really pushing the scene,” said Picard. “That’s not to say the local kids aren’t as good, but the dedication that the out-of-town kids have for doing contests and progressing is pushing everybody. It also gives the kids from outside Whistler a chance to find out what the scene is about, and learn from our guys. I know they’re excited to be here, and are working really hard to make it.”
After the Riders Cup, Picard will be taking a team to Cypress Mountain for the nationals in slopestyle and halfpipe in early April, where he is confident that his riders will make an impression. After that it’s the Telus World Ski and Snowboard Festival, which has open qualifiers for most events.