Last week the top junior and senior snowboard athletes in the country converged on Mont Tremblant for the 2002 Pizza Pops Canadian National and Junior Snowboard Championships. As usual, Whistler was well-represented in the competitions, and at the awards ceremonies.
In the senior halfpipe on March 27, all three of the top spots went to Whistler riders. Maelle Ricker, who divides her time between Vancouver and Whistler, surprised nobody when she won the gold medal. She was Canadas top athlete on the World Cup tour this year, finishing fifth overall.
"I have to admit that it was an easy win," said the 23-year-old Ricker.
She will be in Whistler later this month to compete in the Ripzone Invitational Superpipe.
Silver and bronze went Mercedes Nicoll and Lori Glazier, both of Whistler. Nicoll joined the national development team last season, dominating both provincial and national competitions. She is 19-years-old, and while she specializes in halfpipe, she is equally at home in snowboard cross and slopestyle events.
Glazier, 28, is consistently one of Canadas top freestyle snowboarders, and finished 16 th overall in the World Cup standings this year, even though she missed several events.
The mens halfpipe event was a bit of a surprise with junior Hugo Lemay of Quebec City earning his second gold medal of the week against some of the top senior riders in the country. The 19-year-old phenom was not a member of the national or national development teams this season, and now hes on the way to Ruka, Finland, to represent Canada at the Junior World Championships.
"I knew I would be facing some tough competitors like Jesse Kumlea, and I was feeling a little nervous," he said.
Kumlea, another Whistler rider, was in the lead until a fall on his second run dropped him into second place. Far from being disappointed with his silver medal, Kumlea was proud of his performance at the nationals. "I am actually ranked second among the members of the Canadian Snowboard Federation," he said. "After this performance Ill probably slide into first place."
The result will give Kumlea more chances to compete internationally and on the World Cup circuit.
Dylan Gilmore of Calgary was third.
In the junior halfpipe competition that morning, which drew over 100 competitors, Hugo Lemay easily won gold before heading to the senior competition. He was followed By Adam Baldick of Alberta and Neil Connely of Ontario.
Canadian junior Amy Vaillancourt of Wakefield, Quebec, won the womens halfpipe. Whistlers Sarah Kopinya, who is a member of the Whistler Valley Snowboard Club, finished second. Bronze went to Jaclyn Anderson of Alberta.
On March 25 the alpine boarders competed in the junior giant slalom, which was attended by more than 100 racers, age 12 to 19.
Francois Boivin, 19, one of the most successful members of the national alpine team in international competition this year, won the gold medal ahead of Philippe Beurbe of Quebec and Colin Bell of Ontario.
In the womens competition, the top spot went to Helene Cloutier of St. Joseph-de-Beauce, Quebec. Cloutier, 19, is one of Canadas top prospects for the World Cup circuit, where the Canadian women have yet to make an impact. Zoe Gillings of the United Kingdom was second, followed by Becky Moore of Ontario.
The senior racers faced off on March 28 and to nobodys surprise the national title was snapped up by Jasey-Jay Anderson of Val-Morin, Quebec. The week before Anderson was crowned the overall World Cup champion and snowboard cross champion for the second year in a row.
"Its always great to race at Tremblant because my family is here to cheer me on," said Anderson, who hadnt raced in a GS in almost a year.
B.C. racer Ryan Wedding, who is one of the biggest racers on the national team at 63" and 235 pounds, was second.
Mark Fawcett of Rothesay, New Brunswick, was third.
In the womens race, the top spot went to Whistlers Alexa Loo. Aimee Newton of Calgary and Melissa Barclay of Quebec City won silver and bronze respectively.
The parallel giant slalom that afternoon went to Anderson once again, with Wedding and Boivin being awarded silver and bronze medals. For the women, Newton finished on top, followed by Loo and Cloutier.
In the snowboard cross on March 30, Robert Fagan of Cranbrook, B.C. claimed the national title ahead of B.C. riders Tom Velisek and Brodie Petersen.
Mayumi Fukuda of Vancouver won the womens contest, followed by Zoe Gillings of the U.K. and Carlee Baker of Kelowna.