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Maelle Ricker

X marks the spot

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Life back in North America is smooth sailing. There’s snow on the ground and there has been good weather for our latest competitions. Everyone at the Canadian Snowboard Federation was able to take a breath of fresh air as the World Championships finished on a high note.

Brad Martin was the only Canadian to step up to the plate in Arosa, Switzerland. He threw an impressive run in the dilapidated halfpipe, which earned him a bronze medal. This was our only podium finish at the championships; not great compared with the five podiums from Whistler in 2005. Crispin Lipscomb also had a top 10 placing in sixth. Justin Lamoureux squeezed into the top 16 in 15th spot — just enough to make the golden marking for Athlete Assistance Program funding for the next two years.

On the women’s side of things, Mercedes Nicoll, Sarah Conrad, and Dominique Vallée all earned top 16 results as well. However, none of these three ladies were able to make the finals.

Maybe no finals were made at the world championships for Mercedes, but she sure showed her stuff the next week in Aspen. Winter X Games has just finished up and we had some Canadians givin’er in Colorado. Mercedes finished sixth with some nice technical riding.

Dominique had a rough time in her X-Games debut. After finally getting her bags at three o’clock the day of qualifying, Dom still managed to throw a run that was just shy of making the finals.

Brad was in the mix in the men’s pipe. He had a few hiccups in his qualifying runs to put him in 12 th place, two spots away from the finals.

The pipe finals in both the men’s and women’s events were crazy. Torah Bright wowed absolutely everyone with her tech runs. She was followed by Gretchen Bleiler, and Elena Hight. Elena also blew minds with giant straight airs and a beautiful backside 900. Steve Fisher won the men’s event. His stepped up huge, and his run earned a well-deserved gold medal.

A couple other Canadian pipers were in Laax, Switzerland, at the European Open while the X-Games were underway. Crispin came up big in the finals to win the event. Sarah Conrad also killed it in Laax; she placed second in the women’s halfpipe contest… not too shabby at all!

Most of our snowboardcross team was at Winter X too. Drew Neilson was a smoking bullet on race day. He looked like he had all the stars lined up and was poised to put more golden hardwear in his already jam-packed trophy case. His first heat of racing was crazy. Drew was lined up in the start gate with Shawn Palmer, Xavier Delelrue, and three other poor blokes that had no chance of moving on to the next round.   Semi-finals didn’t treat Drew with the respect and he had to settle for winning the small finals. This put him in seventh place at the end of the day.

The women’s race had yet another disastrous finish for Lindsay Jacobellis. She led the charge in semi-finals and was poised to win her fourth X Games gold medal. However, the last jump on the course was tough for the ladies. It didn’t kick you very high in the air but you had to clear quite a long distance to hit the steep landing. Lindsay was short on her jump in the finals, knuckled the landing and bounced across the finish line. Joanie Anderson nicely averted a pile-up with Lindsay to snatch first place while I rode into the bronze medal spot. There’s always drama on boarder-x day.

Contests, contests everywhere. Our alpine team is on the road as well, fighting the weather in Europe. After the worlds, they continued on into Western Switzerland where they had a very productive training session in Leysin before heading over to a resort called Nendaz… No I can’t tell you where that is, and I even tried to look it up on a map. I can tell you it’s in Switzerland and that the team competed in a parallel slalom.

Matt Morrison came up huge, again. He’s on fire and is taking on all the top European racers with a vengeance. Before Nendaz his best result in international waters had been fifth. Matt was also the only Canadian man to make top 16 at world champs in both the PGS and PSL.

In Nendaz last weekend he took the small finals. Third place for a 19-year-old Ontario boy up against giant Euro gate bashers is an amazing feat! Good work Matt. Keep killin’ it.

Caroline Calve was 16th in the women’s event, the best Canadian female on race day.

The traveling is getting crazier and crazier as the season goes on. Let’s hope more Canadians win hardwear in the near future.

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