By Maëlle Ricker
After two and a half months of solid travelling I came back to family, friends, and whole lot of powder.
Not so long ago there was a terrible curse cast over the valley which caused everyone to badmouth the snow conditions and threatened the existence of the summer camps. My dad, true to form, shrugged off all the negative babble about the snow pack and said, "Bah, dont concern yourself with all the mumbo jumbo, well get plenty of snow this spring." Sure enough he was right, as always.
I came back from Big White with the intention of taking it easy for a bit and getting ready for fun spring riding at the Telus World Ski and Snowboard Festival. I ended up having some of the best days of freeriding on Blackcomb in a long time. I met up with the old crew of boys for one of the great days. My brother Jorli, Jeff Ihaksi, Mark Torlay, Nelson Jensen, Mike Michalchuck, and one of my first coaches, Andrew Murphy, all came out for some turns at one point or another. We ran into various national team members along the way, including one that everybody should look out for in lift lines. Without totally blowing his cover, this curly-haired bandit is a great snaker. He even blew right by me at the World Snowboarding Invitational accreditation centre last week. Chances are, hes snaking you right now!
Nonetheless, there was plenty of powder for everyone. Our crew really lucked out with fresh tracks around Glacier Express, and mind blowing runs in Spankys. We logged more and more powder days as the week went on.
I took my Nova Scotian teammate, Sarah Conrad, out for some Whistler freeriding after our Big White adventures together after the Nationals. New to West Coast powder, she impressed Tara Teigen and I with drastic improvements over the course of only one week.
Justin Lamoureux was also riding with one of our East Coast teammates, Brad Martin. The Ontario native had to keep up with Justin on Peak Chair all day long.
However, Justin had to keep up with Brad that weekend in the World Snowboard Invitational slopestyle and halfpipe contests.
Brad managed a double podium by taking second in the slopestyle and first in the halfpipe. Whistler resident Neil Connolly edged out Brad in the slopestyle superfinals, and Brad edged out Crispin Lipscomb and Justin in the halfpipe jam finals.
Despite the foggy weather that rolled in halfway through the mens final, Crispin and Justin kept throwing down great runs to try and take down Brads high score.
The fourth place finisher in the pipe event, Elijah Teeter, took the SuperHit title. He won a trip for two to Maui or Mexico, depending on which destination he prefers.
Mike Michalchuck was having a good time in the SuperHit contest throwing down some of his trademark double backflips while Justin impressed the crowd and fellow riders with huge switch backside airs.
The womens slopestyle contest was won by a 17 year old. Spencer OBrien, who lives in Squamish, beat out Susi Davis of Whistler and one of my favourite Whistler locals, Star of Peace Quinn. Even though I didnt see it, I heard Star pulled a beautiful backside 360 tail grab over the big transfer tabletop jump. She also pulled the best hit on the quarterpipe at the bottom of the course.
Rumour has it the slopestyle course was pretty fun. Riders were finding it very easy to overshoot the jump landings and equally as easy to knuckle them as well. Everybody seemed to have a great time despite a few miscalculated landings by some of the competitors.
The halfpipe was amazing, as it always is at the festival. The conditions were close to perfect for the girls jam format finals. Tricia Byrnes of the U.S. won the event for the second year in a row.
Sarah Conrad ended up fifth but pulled some amazing runs. If she would have stuck just one of her runs, Im sure Tricia would have had some competition for the top spot. I pulled in a second place finish ahead of another U.S. rider, Autumn Rose.
The best part of the weekend was over. We had nothing left to do but celebrate aw shucks! Everyone gathered at the athletes centre for some food and drinks. This après session was followed up by yummy sushi, live music by Mike Michalchucks roommate Dana at Tapleys, and more fun at the Longhorn.
The contest season is now officially done and theres nothing left to do but ride more powder. The national team is being selected over the next couple of weeks, and then we will be off to California for spring training. We are all looking forward to riding a soft halfpipe and park, learning some new tricks and having a great time.