By Maëlle Ricker
The Christmas holidays have long since passed and the New Year is in full swing. Whistler is still getting dumped on, and Europe is still as green as can be. Much is the same in 2007.
December was a hectic month for our coaches and the travel agents working for the snowboard team. They had to be as quick on the phone changing travels plans as the riders have to be on their boards riding down a race course.
The Alpine team did end up with two parallel slaloms in Bad Gastein right before Christmas. Jasey Jay Anderson was on the podium with a bronze and his teammate Matt Morrison had a career best fifth place result.
They also raced two NorAms in Steamboat Springs, Colorado right after New Year’s to finalize the selection for the world championships. Alexa Loo, Kimiko Zakreski, Caroline Calve and Christelle Doyon are representing Canada on the women’s side.
The defending FIS Word Champion in both the PSL and PSG, Jasey Jay, gets his own personal spot in Arosa this week. Matt Morison, Patrick Ferrel, Mike Lambert, and Phil Berube will join Jasey on the men’s side.
The events department of Bad Gastein worked hard to try to keep a snowboardcross race at their resort. Unfortunately Mother Nature didn’t deliver any snow and the race was finally cancelled.
This cancellation was a huge bummer for many teams. Not only is the Bad Gastein course fun to ride, especially with a night finals, but also because most countries were using that race as a qualification for the world championships.
Canada’s snowboardcross world championships team was decided strictly off of FIS points. This was a shame for the men’s team in particular. Riders who were hurt last year, such as Rob Fagan and Derek Winterman, had no shot of getting on the team, and as a result the team consists of the same guys who were in Torino — Jasey Jay, Drew Neilson, Tom Velisek, and Francois Boivin.
The women’s team was small for world’s this year. Christelle Doyon and I were the only girls on the roster as Erin Simmons is taking time off, Dominique Maltais is injured, and Dominique Vallée is no longer competing in the snowboardcross discipline.
The halfpipe team was decided through a series of contests in the Calgary Olympic Park halfpipe, and on past results from the Saas Fee World Cup and the Breckenridge Grand Prix.
Dom Vallée, Mercedes Nicoll, Sarah Conrad, and Charmaine Ironside qualified for the women’s team. Justin Lamoureux, Brad Martin, Dan Raymond, and Crispin Lipscomb will be representing in the men’s division.
The snowboardcross team has already raced in Arosa, and the results were missing this time around. Two years ago in Whistler we managed to get two podiums in the World Champs SBX. Francois Boivin was second and I was third. Unfortunately the best I could come up with on Sunday was fifth, while Drew managed a 10 th place result. This was not a good way to kick off the week.
The time trials results were good. I managed to take the top spot and Drew was nicely positioned in fourth place. He was the first soft booter (rider with a freestyle setup) in the men’s qualification round which was an impressive feat considering the course design. With no snow to work with, the course builder was forced to use hay bails to build all of the features on the course. The course was made up with small bank turns and not much air time, which was ideal for a hard boot (race board) set up.
In the end the soft booters prevailed with French rider, Xavier Delerue, winning the men’s event. Olympic golden boy, Seth Westcost, was second, and another American, Nate Holland, was third. The U.S. snowboard team performs again under pressure.
I felt great on Sunday. I was prepared to race and I was looking for redemption after Torino. Unfortunately, the redemption race went to the defending champion Lindsey Jacobellis. She pulled up her socks from the disastrous finish in Torino and took the women’s title in Arosa. I also noticed she made a point of grabbing over every jump in the final round. Take that Bardonnechia!
The snowboardcross team is now on the way back to North America to get ready for the X-Games. The pipe team is training through the week. They qualify on Friday and have finals on Sunday.
The PGS race is just finishing up as I write this column. Matt and Kimiko are the only two Canadians in the finals. They both placed somewhere between 12 th and 16 th . Tomorrow is the PSL. Go team go!