By Maëlle Ricker
Competitive snowboarding has come to an end this season with the wrap up of the Telus World Ski and Snowboard Festival this past weekend. The Junior World Championships have also concluded. Most of the Canadian team is at home taking a break, except for the freestyle guys and gals who are still riding in the spring conditions up on Blackcomb Mountain.
The Junior World Championships took place in Bad Gastein, Austria a couple of weeks ago. There was a lot of pressure on our young Canadians to throw down against a strong field of international stars.
Quebec’s Christelle Doyon was a strong favorite to win the women’s snowboardcross event, as she was there defending her title. She qualified nicely in fourth place the previous day in time trials but the warm-up on the final day didn’t go as planned. Christelle managed to fly off a jump off-balance and land on her head, giving herself a nice concussion that ended her day before it even started.
Matt Morison was our other favourite heading into the Junior Championships with three World Cup medals this season. He showed everybody that he is here to stay with two more outstanding performances in Bad Gastein. On the day of the parallel giant slalom, Matt led the field of racers into the finals with a huge lead over the second place qualifier. He then proceeded to eliminate his competition all the way through to the final round. With one race left in the day, Matt fell over and had to settle for a silver medal.
Luckily for Matt he had a second chance for redemption in the parallel slalom event the next day. He flew through qualifying and landed himself on top the whole day through the final rounds to walk away with the title of Junior World PSL Champion. Not a bad way to end a great season!
The Telus World Ski and Snowboard Festival here in Whistler also showed some great Canadian performances. The Stompede was a big success with nice weather on the day of the finals, and both snowboarders and skiers had nice lines in the jib park. Craig Beaulieu won the men’s category and Molly Milligan won the women’s contest. No national team members were able to jump onto the podium there. However, the Old Spice Big Air contest, held on the first Saturday of the festival, gave national halfpipe team member Brad Martin a chance to get some hardware. He jumped to a well-deserved third place finish that night after ranking first in the qualifier.
The following Saturday was the main event for our halfpipe team, the superpipe finals. After two days of qualification rounds the top 20 guys and top 10 gals got a shot at the superpipe title and the super hit award. No Canadians could muster a podium run. We had four chances to land one good run, but the Japanese seemed to own the pipe last Saturday. Yuki Furihata and Soko Yamaoka were first and second respectively on the women’s podium with Poland’s Paulina Ligocka rounding out the top three. Mercedes Nicoll just missed out on the podium by finishing in fourth place, with Sarah Conrad right on her heels in fifth place.
Japan went one, two and three on the men’s podium. Taka Ishihara, Ryo Aono, and Kazuumi Fujita blocked out Justin Lamoureux from getting a top-three result. He had to settle for fourth, with Crispin Lipscomb ending up in sixth. Ryo Aono was also able to win the Super Hit prize with a beautiful backside 1260.
The Playstation Big Air competition followed the Superpipe on the Saturday night. Matt Belzile took the top spot honours followed by Dave Fortin, and Craig Beaulieu in third. Craig’s consistent podium appearances throughout the entire festival were good enough to take home the overall award at the festival, a brand new Pontiac G5. He was presented this award at the riders’ party in the Westin Ballroom at the themed ’80s prom night. The costumes were amazing and everyone seemed to enjoying themselves after two weeks of hard work and hard play.
The year has come to a close for the Canadian Snowboard Team. The in-ground work at Cypress Mountain will start this summer for the Olympic pipe venue. We will all be seen at some point on the glacier training in June and July. Everyone is hoping for some more Southern Hemisphere training camps, and perhaps even the return of the Chilean World Cup season opener. There are still no signs of the World Cup circuit coming back to Blackcomb in December. Until next year… ciao!