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Raymond wins Nor Am halfpipe

Whistler athletes strong at Big White



In conditions that went from soft snow and sunshine to icy and blizzards in a matter of hours, hundreds of snowboarders from across the western provinces and U.S. came to Big White last week to take part in several different provincial series events, and a Nor Am halfpipe.

Dan Raymond, a member of the national team and Olympic team alternate, finished first overall. The change in weather forced organizers to scrap the final runs, and Raymond was the top rider in the qualifier heat.

"The level of riding out there was super good, the 2010 kids (development program) have definitely cranked things up a notch," said Raymond.

"It was definitely a dress rehearsal for what I want to do in the Olympics, I got to do my run exactly as I wanted it. Right now it’s just a matter of adding another 360 to my backside air at the bottom of the pipe, and I’m there."

Right now Raymond’s sequence starts with a backside 540, followed by a frontside 720, a cab 720, a mandatory straight air, a backside 720 and a backside 540. He is one of the few World Cup athletes doing spins on all four sides, frontside and backside, switch and regular.

Kory Wright and Jeff Batchelor of the Team 2010 were right on his heels through the qualifier. "I definitely felt the pressure, but it was good to do such a clean run for the judges with a lot of pressure on me."

Raymond also had the advantage of a 10-day training camp on the lower halfpipe on Blackcomb, getting in between 30 and 40 runs a day with the help of a snowmobile.

"It was good to have an opportunity to do a few different runs and mix things up a little bit, and do things over and over until it got to the point where I could actually think a little in between hits, and really focus on what I was doing," said Raymond. "You have to be able to adjust your run on the fly if something goes wrong. Now I feel ready for anything."

Wright finished second and Batchelor third. The only other Whistler athletes in the contest were T.J. McKay in seventh and 15-year-old Tamo Campos of the Whistler Valley Snowboard Club, who was 22 nd out of 47 riders.

In the women’s contest, Charmaine Ironside of Calgary took the win, followed by Caylynn Irwin of Toronto and Whistler’s Katie Tsuyuki. Lisa Mason of Whistler was ninth.

The Whistler Valley Snowboard Club also participated in other events.

In the amateur slopestyle, Tylor Macmillan was fifth, Eigo Tashmia sixth, Jeremy Wallace eighth, Masao Shimizu 12 th , Tamo Campos 14 th , Bryan Bowles 15 th , and Masato Tokushima 16 th . Michelle Mark won the women’s amateur slopestyle, while local rider Mark Sollors was second in the men’s pro slopestyle event.

In the men’s amateur halfpipe, Shun Inukai was second, Masao Shimizu third and Tylor MacMillan fifth.

The Big White competition was the fourth stop of the national Honda Pro Am Snowboard Tour, presented by Telus. The other two stops are a halfpipe and slopestyle at Canada Olympic Park on Feb. 17-18 and a snowboardcross at Nakiska on Feb. 24-25.