By Andrew Mitchell
With perfect spring skiing conditions at Sunshine Village and Canada Olympic Park in Alberta, snowboarders from across the country faced off in the Honda Canadian National Championships this past weekend. For riders of the national team, it was the perfect way to wrap up the season, while also providing a proving ground for up and coming riders with the national development and provincial teams.
The first event was the snowboardcross at Sunshine Village. Whistler’s Maëlle Ricker made up for just missing the overall World Cup title by destroying the field in three runs. Kim Krahulec of the U.S. placed second, while Jesse McDonald and Victoria Brown were third and fourth.
“It felt really great today and I’m super stoked to win the national championships,” said Ricker. “The course was in really great shape, and to have something this good at a national championships is amazing.”
On the men’s side, Robert Fagan edged out Tom Velisek and Jasey-Jay Anderson to take the title, while Derek Wintermans of Port Coquitlam and Whistler placed fourth.
“Tom and I are really competitive in everything we do, and it felt good to beat him in the finals today,” said Fagan. “It’s been a challenging season this year for me, and it feels really good to be able to come out here and compete against all of theses guys and take home the national championships.”
Drew Neilson, the overall World Cup winner this year with three gold medals to his credit, had a rough day that left him in 18 th position.
In the junior competition, Christelle Doyon edged Jesse McDonald and Sarah Hunter for the gold medal.
On the junior men’s side, Pierce Smith took the gold, followed by Davis Ronsky and Dan Csokonay.
In warming conditions at Canada Olympic Park in Calgary, Whistler’s Mercedes Nicoll and Squamish-based Brad Martin won the national halfpipe titles.
On the women’s side, Sarah Conrad of Nova Scotia placed second, while Whistler riders Dominique Vallée and Charmaine Ironside were third and fourth.
From Whistler, Maëlle Ricker was seventh and Katie Tsuyuki eighth.
Finishing behind Martin were Whistler’s Justin Lamoureux in second place and Ontario’s Jeff Batchelor in third.
“The conditions were pretty tough because of how warm it was and the snow got pretty soft and slushy,” Martin said. “The Ontario riders heated it up and I had a great ride to come out on top.”
Whistler’s Dan Raymond just missed the podium, placing fourth. Other Whistler riders were Ryan Rausch in 21 st place and Jonathan Redman 26 th .
The parallel giant slalom also took place on Saturday. Jasey-Jay Anderson of Mont Tremblant took the men’s title, followed closely by Chris Klug of the U.S. Third place went to American rider Justin Reiter, while Ontario’s Michael Lambert placed fourth.
On the women’s side, Austria’s Doris Guenther took the gold, followed by Lilian Halme of the national development program. Christelle Doyon of Quebec was third.
The national championships also featured a slopestyle event, wrapping up the national Ripzone series.
Zachary Stone of Ontario took the gold medal, followed by Jed Anderson of Calgary, Alexandre Leblanc of Quebec, and B.C.’s Chris Astofooroff. Whistler’s Ryan Rausch placed fifth and Jonathan Redman eighth out of 63 contenders.
On the women’s side, Alexandra Duckworth of Nova Scotia picked up the gold, followed by Breanna Strangeland and Taryn Cowling. Whistler’s Helen Schettini also qualified for the finals, placing fifth.