The European vacation is over. It’s time to bunker down at home and get back to work. I’m back to the nine to five snowboarding on Whistler and Blackcomb for the holidays.
Mother nature didn’t co-operate for snowboardcross this autumn in Austria, so I was forced home to ride epic powder right at my doorstep. Never have I been so happy to see an event get cancelled!
This season hasn’t been very productive for snowboardcross riders. Four World Cup races have already been cancelled — we’re 0-4 — and the next official race is the World Championships at Arosa. The World Cup at Bad Gastein, Austria, originally scheduled for mid-December has been postponed to the beginning of January… if there is any snow by then, and things don’t look good.
Starting the season with a World Championships seems odd, but I guess that’s par for the course this year for Europe.
Halfpipe riders are missing events as well. There was only one contest in Saas Fee, Switzerland where there was supposed to be two. The World Cups this September in Chile were also cancelled.
The pipe riders did, however, get to compete last weekend at the Grand Prix in Breckenridge. I heard weather was amazing and the halfpipe was “so much fun,” as exclaimed by shy and quiet pipe rider Sarah Conrad.
Brad Martin was the best Canadian of the bunch. He tackled the difficult American field of competitors with some big tricks and finished an impressive fourth behind Danny Davis, Mason Aguirre, and Tommy Czeschin. Rumor has it Brad landed some 1260s on the second hit in his contest runs. Crispin Lipscomb was the other Canadian to crack the top 10 with a ninth place result.
The girl’s field at Breckenridge was very strong as well. Most of the top international ladies were present to throw down their best tricks to fight for the top spot honours for the first stop of the Grand Prix series. Kelly Clark edged out her American Olympic teammate Elena Hight for first place bragging rights. Japan’s Soko Yamoaka was third.
There were no Canadians girls in the top 10. Sarah Conrad was riding well but had some trouble in her contest runs. Katie Tsuyuki was top Canadian in 16 th place. Mercedes Nicoll and Dominique Vallee were unable to attend the contest. Dominique is nursing an injured shoulder at the moment and hopes to be back in action in January.
The alpine team has been the busiest this season. They have raced several times already and are in high gear coming into the World Championships next month. Their latest conquest was at an Italian resort, Kronplatz, where they raced a re-scheduled parallel giant slalom World Cup. The mountain made just enough snow to pull it off.
Alexa Loo logged yet another top 10 finish into her book, finishing in seventh place. Her work ethic in the gym in the off-season is definitely paying off.
“The female Bruce Lee,” as labeled by boardercross teammate Tom Velisek, is working hard and producing consistent performances this year. It will be exciting to watch Alexa take on the European women for some hardware later this winter.
Let’s hope the momentum keeps rolling in the right direction for our Canadian women alpine riders. Historically their results have been a weak link for the snowboard team, with no Canadian female racers qualifying for the Nagano or Salt Lake Olympics. Alexa was the only woman in the Torino Games this past February, and is still the only Canadian female to medal at a parallel giant slalom World Cup.
Despite the lack of events in the other disciplines, our female racers are still holding their own with the majority of the good results this season. Alexa Loo of Richmond B.C., Kimiko Zakreski of Calgary Alberta, and Caroline Calve of Gatineau Quebec are leading the charge on the World Cup circuit. Developing Project 2010 riders are hot on their tails as well, helping push the boundaries of the women’s race program in Canada.
The men’s race at Kronplatz was still dominated by the usual suspects. Breaking into the European league of PGS racing is proving to be quite difficult for our guys. Jasey-Jay Anderson came the closest last weekend. He was 17 th , one spot shy of the head-to-head final rounds.
The Christmas holidays have begun for the halfpipe and snowboardcross teams. It’s the perfect time to be at home — riding during the day, working out in the evenings, and sleeping well at night in our own beds. January will be busy and we have to be rested and ready for all the action.
Our racers have two more kicks at the can right before Christmas. They compete in a postponed PGS and re-scheduled PSL on Dec. 20 and 21 in Bad Gastein, Austria. Best of luck to them. And happy holidays to everyone in Sea to Sky!