On the morning of the Telus World Ski and Snowboard Festival superpipe finals a quick check on the Whistler-Blackcomb website revealed temperatures of -20 degrees Celsius at the peak, and winds of about 40 km/h.
While the weather didn’t keep the spectators from crowding the competition site, the skiers and riders were reluctantly forced to tone down their runs to avoid landing on the icy deck or bottom of the pipe.
The snowboarders were up first, which meant colder temperatures but less wind than the skiers had to contend with.
Once again the Japanese team was out in force, and picked up most of the podiums on the men’s and women’s side. The exception this year was the performance of Ontario’s Jeff Batchelor, who showed why he’s one of Canada’s top prospects with a second place finish in the regular superpipe contest, and the win in the athlete-judged SuperHit competition.
Although the conditions weren’t what he expected, Batchelor made the most of it.
“It was a pretty sick day all in all,” he said. “It was sunny. It was also a little windy, but you know what, we can deal with it. Everybody pushed it as far as they could, and I ended up in second overall, so I’m pretty happy.”
Batchelor won the SuperHit contest after landing a few big backside 1080s. His best trick right now is a corked frontside 900, which he says helped him to place second.
“I’m glad I managed to pull it out of the bag and secure a spot on the podium,” he said. “The riders were really pushing it, so I knew I needed to fit that trick in my last run and do it cleanly.”
Although he could well be facing some of the Japanese riders on the World Cup circuit or even at the Olympics, Batchelor says the contest was all about having some fun at the end of his season.
“It’s the end of a long season, and everybody is kind of over competing,” he said. “Somehow I managed to keep up the hype to the end, and end on a high note. For me the competition is just another part of the festival — to sum it up in one sentence, it’s a big party with a little snowboarding on the side. Getting some of the best of the best out made it a great event.”
Batchelor’s score was an 18.5 out of 20, which he made on the last of his four runs. He was 0.4 points back of Murakami Fumiyuki of Japan. Kazuumi Fujita of Japan was third with a 17.7.