The top snowboarders in Canada converged on Mont Tremblant this past weekend to compete for national titles in parallel giant slalom, halfpipe and snowboardcross. There was also a replacement NorAm Cup parallel slalom event.
Results from the nationals are weighted the same as a NorAm Cup event in terms of points and a win at Tremblant wouldn't get anyone into the Games, but all results will be considered by coaches when it comes time to select a crew for 2010.
The alpine team was first up, with athletes racing a parallel giant slalom. A World Cup test race at the venue was cancelled earlier in the year for logistical reasons, and this was the first official contest on the race run.
Surprising nobody, world champion Jasey-Jay Anderson added a national title to his resume, with Matthew Morison picking up the silver medal.
"I had the luck of the draw today," said Anderson. "I had the slower course first and the fastest second, so I could almost have done whatever I wanted in the second run to advance... There was a big field today with lots of good North American riders. I was happy to be consistent enough to win in front of my kids and family."
Morison broke his hand during the season, but still made it through a tough field to face Anderson in the finals.
Chris Klug of the U.S. picked up the bronze medal, edging out Canada's Michael Lambert in the small final.
The competition on the women's side was just as intense, especially between members of the national team. Alexa Loo beat Caroline Calvé in the final dual to take the gold medal, while American rider Lindsey Loyd edged out Ekatarina Zavialova of Calgary for the bronze.
In parallel slalom, Anderson picked up a gold medal ahead of Canadian Patrick Farrell, with Joshua Wylie of the U.S. edging out Chris Klug for the bronze. Alexa Loo won the women's competition, ahead of teammate Kimiko Zakreski. Ott Lynn of the U.S. won bronze.
Halfpipe was up next. Competition on the men's side is especially stiff this year with five athletes winning World Cup medals and at least twice as many riders contending for a maximum of four spots in 2010.
Brad Martin, who is based in Squamish, won the men's competition ahead of teammates Justin Lamoureux and Jeff Batchelor. From Whistler, Ryan Rausch, Dan Raymond and an injured Crispin Lipscomb were seventh, eighth and 10 th respectively out of 53 starters.
"The result ended up great for me," said Martin, who toned down his World Cup routine for the competition. "I took a fall on my first final run, but did a front 1080, cab seven, two straight airs and front nine in my second run for the win.
"We were in a mini pipe and I hadn't ridden one all year so that was a challenge."
Sarah Conrad, who moved to Squamish from Nova Scotia last season, won the women's title. Her parents drove 12 hours to watch her compete and win her first national title, and she competed with borrowed gear after her bags were lost.
"I am pretty happy with it," she said. "I have never been national champion before. I was on the podium last year, but I've never been on top. Thanks to everyone from whom I borrowed gear. Everything came together and eventually I had what I needed.
"I switched boards about four times, and finally found something that worked. All in all, you're still snowboarding so I pieced something together and it seemed to have worked out."
Last up was the snowboardcross race. Whistler's Maëlle Ricker picked up the title, ahead of Ziggy Cowan and Jacqueline Hernandez of the U.S. Ricker placed second in the overall World Cup standings this year after a string of fourth place finishes, but found her flow again late in the season to podium four times.
"It's always nice coming to the nationals," said Ricker. "I had to negotiate my way through the really tough and tight corners. I got to have a little more choice in some of those turns, it definitely helped me out to be alone at the front."
Dominique Vallée has also struggled this season with injuries, and finished with a few podiums of her own with a late season surge. She fell in the finals to finish fourth.
On the men's side, Francois Boivin edged out Mick Dierdorff of the U.S. and Whistler rider Derek Wintermans for the win. Pat Tunnicliffe was fourth out of the field of 52 starters.