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Whistler’s women rule in halfpipe



Glazier, Nicoll on podium, Vallée, Kopinya in top-10

Some 171 competitors from 17 different countries were in Whistler last weekend to compete in the Nokia FIS World Cup. During their stay they were hit with everything the West Coast has to offer – rain, fog, warm weather, cold weather, and on the days of competition, some heavy snowfalls.

The events team and groomers worked around the clock to keep the halfpipe clear and the build up the walls, and by Saturday, Dec. 14, it was at last up to World Cup standards.

Competing before a home crowd of family and friends, Whistler’s Lori Glazier and Mercedes Nicoll took the second and third spots behind Manuela Lara Pesko of Switzerland.

Pesko put together an incredible first run with twists, grabs and, most important, smooth landings and transitions. The run put her well ahead of the pack with a score of 39.9. With only the best of two runs in the finals counting, the rest of the field was playing catch-up on the second run.

"The snowy conditions made the halfpipe unpredictable and so I had to assess each jump as I approached it," said Pesko. "It added another element of difficulty, which I managed to overcome."

The lead was made a lot bigger by the fact that the pipe had taken a beating by the time the athletes were ready for a second run. Although volunteers smoothed over the worst damage, it clearly wasn’t the same halfpipe.

Glazier, 30, put together a solid run of her own at the start, but with a score of 35.3 she would have to pull out all of the stops to beat Pesko. She rode on edge, went bigger, and made a few bobbles on the chewed up pipe that were costly. Her first run would stand, and she would finish the day in second place.

For Glazier, it was a career-best finish in a World Cup and her first podium in two years.

"Things were going well for me in the pipe today," she said. "It is good to compete in my hometown and the crowd was super supportive. I’m very happy with my result."

Nicoll, 19, who graduated from the Whistler Valley Snowboard Club to the national development team to the national team in just two seasons, showed she was ready for the big time with a first run of 32.4 points. She had better breaks on the second run than Glazier, but it was still her first run that would count, and she finished the day with a bronze medal.

"It’s very exciting to get a medal this early (in her career)," Nicoll told CBC reporters. Nicoll was making her first World Cup appearance as a member of the national team.

Also for Canada, Quebec-Whistler transplant Dominque Vallée and homegrown talent Sarah Kopinya, another Whistler Valley Snowboard Club alumnus, were eighth and ninth respectively. Jaclyn Anderson was 16 th , Sarah Conrad 17 th , Isabelle Piche 19 th , Helen Schettini 20 th , Natalie Sawyer 23 rd , Kristi Yzerman 26 th and Stacey Burke 27 th , to round out the top-30.

In the men’s halfpipe competition, 17-year-old Domu Narita of Japan quickly established himself as the man to beat with a run worth 43.1 points. Narita threw in a couple of inverted tricks and 720s to push the difficulty level up, and was untouchable.

"Since I started participating in competitions, I have been to every contest in Whistler," said Narita. "Winning here is the perfect dream."

Xavier Hoffman of Germany came the closest to Narita, with a score of 39.2 after his first run and a 39.6 on his second. With huge spins and grabs, Hoffman easily made the smoothest run of the afternoon.

Vinzenz Leups of Germany was third after a solid first run. His second run started well, but then washed out early.

For Canada, Josh Duncan, 24, of Canmore was the top rider, finishing sixth overall with a score of 33.5. Duncan also washed out on his second run, but used the last of his run to launch a huge, crowd-pleasing McTwist at the bottom of the pipe. Brett Carpentier, the only other Canadian to qualify for the finals, finished ninth with a 26.3.

Whistler’s David Melancon came close to the finals, finishing 11 th in the qualifier. Ben Wainwright was second, Neil Connolly 14 th , Crispin Lipscomb 17 th , Parker Ferguson 19 th , Dan Raymond 22 nd , and Adam Baldick 26 th to round out the top-30.

The Canadians will get another chance to shine at home this weekend with another World Cup at Stoneham, Quebec.