Although some Canadian riders left the Snowscene World Cup weekend disappointed, from a team perspective it went as well as possible.
In four World Cup events the Canadian Snowboard Team claimed a total of five medals, one gold and four bronze, as well as several results in the top-five and top-10 against a strong international field.
For some Canadian athletes this was the last weekend to earn results that would qualify them for the Torino Olympics in February. Erin Simmons, with two bronze medals in the snowboardcross, and Tom Velisek, who finished seventh on the second day of snowboardcross, have now met the CSF’s qualification criteria.
The Canadian Snowboard Federation will name a team around Dec. 20, following this weekend’s parallel giant slalom World Cup events at Le Relais, Quebec.
Snowboardcross World Cup #1
Athletes had nothing but good things to say about the course built by local Jeff Ihaksi, which was one of the most technically challenging many had ever ridden. You had to be good to have a chance at winning, the riders said, but it also paid to be lucky. With crashes in almost every heat in the final rounds, sometimes the winner was the rider that avoided the carnage or got up the fastest out of a pileup.
On day one, three Canadian women and five Canadian men qualified for the finals. After that it was a war of attrition, with a lot of passing, crashing and aggressive riding between the first air out of the gate and the final air into the finish circle.
In the men’s competition Ryan Hickey and Tom Velisek got dropped in the first round, while Jasey-Jay Anderson of Mont Tremblant, North Vancouver’s Drew Nielson and Francois Boivin of Jonquiere, Quebec moved on to the quarter finals.
There was a pileup in the next heat that took out all four riders. When the mess was sorted out, Anderson squeaked in behind Italy’s Alberto Schiavon, while Seth Wescott, the top American rider, and Boivin were eliminated.
Meanwhile Nielson continued to dominate, taking every hole shot and holding off his competitors to the bottom in every round.
Anderson crashed again in the semi final in the same spot as the previous round, and was relegated to the small final while Nielson took another win to advance to the finals.
Anderson finished second to David Speiser of Germany in the small final, to finish sixth overall.
Nielson led the whole way down in his run in the finals and had a solid lead almost to the bottom. Disaster struck coming out of the second-to-last turn in the final set of rollers. He caught air and landed flat, which caused his helmet to drop over his eyes. In the fraction of a second it took him to push it back up he was slightly off course in a rough section. His momentum carried him outside of one off the last gates.