Although the world has been slow to embrace ski halfpipe and ski cross at the World Cup level since they were approved by Federation Internationale de Ski (FIS) back in 2005, last week’s events in Les Contamines Montjoie, France attracted a lot of attention. For one thing, it was the first World Cup ski cross event since the International Olympic Committee approved the sport for the Winter Games in 2010 and a huge field of international athletes turned out to earn points. The other reason was the general popularity of ski halfpipe, and questions why this event hasn’t been included in the Olympics yet.
It was a good weekend for Canadian athletes, with three medals in halfpipe and one in ski cross.
In the ski cross the Canadian team was solid, with two men making it through the first two rounds of racing into the semi-final. Whistler’s Davey Barr faced Stanley Hayer from the interior of B.C. in that round but only Hayer moved on.
Barr had a good start in that race, but clipped a gate hard enough out of the start that he required three stitches on his nose. He missed his chance of making the finals, but won the small final to place fifth overall — his best result in a World Cup competition.
Hayer did advance to the final round, where he had his own problems in the start. He missed the hole shot, but was able to hold on and place third behind Thomas Kraus of the Czech Republic and Casey Puckett of the U.S.
“The start wasn’t made for me, either I’m too big or too weak to get out of the flat starts, but to start on the outside and get into the second spot was pretty good,” said Hayer. “I had a tough race from Puckett for second, we’ve been racing against each other for nine years now, and the two guys who finished up front are very good.”
Also from Canada, Chris Del Boscoe placed 17 th , and Whistler’s Brian Bennett was 21 st .
On the women’s side, Whistler’s Ashleigh McIvor literally battled her way into the finals, sustaining a mild hip injury in the quarter-final, then dislocating her shoulder in the last turn while leading her heat in the semi-finals. After about 20 minutes a doctor managed to pop her arm back in, and after a talk with the coach she planned to race in the final heat, go slow and hope for a crash up front. However, with the delay she missed the start and had to settle for a fourth place finish behind World Champion Ophelie David of France, Hedda Berntsen of Norway, and Meryl Boulangeat of France.