Canada Snowboard officially announced its team for the upcoming Olympic season, and as expected the ranks reflect the performance of top athletes on the pro circuit in recent seasons — and especially in the newly sanctioned sport of snowboard slopestyle.
It's also a big team, which reflects the addition of slopestyle and parallel slalom to the Games schedule, as well as the team's increased funding as a result of strong results over the past few seasons.
There are 34 athletes on the roster, which will be battling for a maximum of 24 quota spots for Canada at the Sochi Winter Games, no more of 14 of which can be male or female.
The list includes several Whistler/Squamish athletes including defending Olympic gold medallist Maëlle Ricker, 2010 Olympic finalist Mercedes Nicoll, Brad Martin, halfpipe hopeful Alexandra Duckworth and Derek Livingstone.
At least six athletes have already qualified for the Games based on their results last season, a group that includes slopestyle athletes Mark McMorris, Sebastian Toutant and Spencer O'Brien, as well as snowboardcross racers Chris Robanske, Ricker and Dominique Maltais.
The list of national para-snowboard athletes wasn't confirmed, but Whistler's Tyler Mosher will be on that list.
"I couldn't be happier for all the athletes that have already earned provisionary nominations for Sochi," said Robert Joncas, high performance director for Canada Snowboard.
"I know that the rest of the team members will give it their all in the coming months. This is what they have been working towards for a very long time and I'm confident our team will make Canada proud this winter."
Canada's goal at Sochi is to win five medals, and have three quarters of athletes place in the top 16 of their events.
To qualify for the Olympics, athletes need to meet requirements set by their own sanctioning body (Canada Snowboard), the Canadian Olympic Committee and the International Skiing Federation (FIS). The FIS requirements are the easiest to meet, requiring athletes to finish in the top 30 in a World Cup, World Championship or accredited professional event between July 2012 and January 2014. Athletes need at least 100 FIS points from the current season by Jan. 24, 2014.
Countries first have to earn quota spots for their athletes — a maximum of four men and four women in any discipline — then decide themselves who fills those spots using an internal process. All of the disciplines have slightly different standards within the Canadian system.
The team collectively raked in a total of 55 podiums this past season, including medals from World Cup competitions, from the World Championships and from pro events including X Games, Euroe X Games and the U.S. Open.
The list of 55 podiums includes:
• 20 FIS World Cup podiums (nine gold, six silver and five bronze)
• 14 World Snowboard Tour podiums at 5/6 star events (six gold, four silver and four bronze)
• Nine Winter X Games podiums (five gold, three silver and one bronze)
• Four FIS World Championship podiums (two gold, two silver)
• Three Junior World Championships podiums (two gold, one bronze)
• Three Dew Tour Championships podiums (two gold, one silver)
• Two IPC Para World Cup podiums (two silver)
Maltais earned the team's only FIS Crystal Globe this year, the fourth of her career, in snowboardcross, while teammate Ricker, the 2010 Olympic champion, won the world championship title. As well, Chris Robanske won his first snowboardcross gold medal on the men's side, which was the first for the men's team since 2007.
In alpine, Caroline Calvé won gold, silver and bronze medals, including the first win of her career. Ariagne Lavigne won bronze at a World Cup and Olympic test event in Sochi, Russia, while Matthew Morison overcame his slump to win a bronze medal in Switzerland.
In slopestyle, Mark McMorris won gold in big air and slopestyle at X Games, won the X Games slopestyle, was second in the X Games Big Air, and won the Burton US Open slopestyle. He was named the Slopestyle World Snowboard Tour Champion. Teammate Sebastien Toutant won the World Snowboard Tour Big Air Champion title and gold in the Euro X Games slopestyle. Maxence Parrot won gold in the O'Neill Evolution Big Air. In women's slopestyle, Spencer O'Brien won the World Championships and the Burton US Open.
The Canadian snowboardcross team includes Maëlle Ricker, Dominique Maltais, Robert Fagan, Chris Robanske, Jake Holden, Kevin Hill, Michelle Brodeur and Carle Brenneman.
The slopestyle team is Mark McMorris (who is currently up for an ESPY award in the men's action sport category) Sebastien Toutant, Maxence Parrot, Spencer O'Brien, Tyler Nicholson, Matts Kulisek, Charles Reid, Antoine Truchon, Breanna Stangeland, Brooke Voigt and Samm Denena.
The halfpipe team, coached by Whistler's Dan Raymond, is Brad Martin, Alexandra Duckworth, Mercedes Nicoll, Derek Livingston and Calynn Irwin.
The alpine team features Caroline Calvé, Ariana Lavigne, Matthew Morison, Jasey Jay Anderson, Marianne Leeson, Indrik Trahan, Darren Gardner and Michael Lambert.
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