Canadian boarders turn it on in France 

Ricker wins silver in halfpipe

All the wine and cheese in France couldn’t slow the Canadian snowboard team down last weekend, as the World Cup season continued in Alpe d’Huez.

The Canadians didn’t have much luck in the parallel giant slalom, with only Quebec’s Jaysey Jay Anderson cracking the top 15 with a 12 th place finish.

The halfpipe was a different story.

In the women’s event, Whistler rider Maelle Ricker broke her halfpipe medal drought with a strong silver medal performance. She has missed most of the last two seasons with knee injuries sustained in snowboard cross events, but looks like she’s got the old touch back – combined with two fourth place finishes and two more top 10s this season, she is currently ranked third in the world.

"This is great," she said. "I haven’t been on the podium in halfpipe for such a long time. My riding is finally coming back together so I can’t complain with second. The pipe had such a nice shape and it was steep and a bit soft so you could really be aggressive."

While she may be one of the top ranked women in the world, it came too late for the 23 year old to qualify for the Olympics. By the November FIS cut off, Natasza Zurek was the only Canadian to achieve two top 16 World Cup results and secure a berth for the Games.

As a result, there was only one spot in the halfpipe for the Canadian women out of a maximum of two. This year the Olympic halfpipe was open to just 20 riders, the fewest quota spots of any sport.

Also for Canada, Whistler’s Lori Glazier finished in 11 th place, while Zurek was 15 th . Glazier currently sits ninth in the world, Zurek is 12 th and Dominique Vallee is 15 th .

First and third in the women’s pipe went to French riders Alzina Cecile and Doriane Vidal.

In the men’s halfpipe, no Canadians made the podium, but four riders made the top 20. Pemberton’s Mike Michalchuk was fifth, Brett Carpentier was sixth, Trevor Andrew 15 th and Daniel Migneault 18 th .

Guillaume Morisset is currently the top Canadian in the World Cup standings in fifth place. Migneault is sixth, Michalchuk is eighth, Andrew is 17 th , and Whistler’s David Melancon is 18 th .

Team Canada will send four male snowboarders to the Salt Lake City halfpipe, with the men qualifying for all of their quota spots before the deadline. The FIS allowed 35 entries for the men, making snowboarding the only sport to allow more men than women into the Olympics.

It would appear that the controversy over the FIS’s management of World Cup and Olympic snowboarding continues, despite assurances otherwise.

Carpentier has already qualified for a spot on the team, and World Cup rankings as of this weekend will determine which three other Canadian riders will get to go – that should mean Morisset, Michalchuk and Andrew.

The Alpe d’Huez podium went to World Cup leader Heikki Sorsa of Finland. Halvor Lunn of Norway won silver, and Risto Mattila, another Finn, won bronze. Sorsa is currently on top of the World Cup rankings.

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