Staying in the snowboard loop 

Do you ever get the feeling of total nervousness for everyone but yourself?


By Maëlle Ricker

That’s how I felt all last week. My snowboard cross and race teammates were competing at World Cups in Austria while my halfpipe teammates were competing at a Grand Prix in Breckenridge, Colorado.

There’s nothing worse than sitting on your fanny anxiously waiting for results over the Internet. I’d much rather be hanging out at the bottom of the event taking it all in, or better yet, competing myself!

Every so often I called around to see if anyone had heard any gossip. Finally Tara Teigen came through with some news.

Tara, a former halfpipe team member and Olympian, gave me some interesting information that was relayed over from Nassfeld-Hermagor, Austria. Her boyfriend, Jeff Ihaksi, was the snowboard cross course builder for the two World Cups that took place Tuesday, Dec. 14 and Wednesday, Dec. 15. The snow conditions were far from desirable and made course building extremely treacherous.

The weather didn’t co-operate at all. Inverted temperatures of minus eight degrees in the valley and zero to two degrees at course level made problems worse. Because of the inversion, Jeff had five trucks bring load after load of snow up from the valley to the course.

He also had hay bails brought in to help form course features, such as jumps and rollers. Luckily, with two days to spare, the temperature dropped just enough at night to blow snow for two more bank turns to finish off the course.

By the sounds of things, being a snowboard cross course builder this season is about as easy as being a skydiver with no parachute.

The wonderful world of high speed Internet gave me the snowboard cross race results quickly. Since Austria is nine hours ahead of us, I was able to roll out of bed Tuesday and Wednesday mornings to see the results right away. Jasey-Jay Anderson stole the show both days and earned himself 2,000 valuable World Cup points. He now holds the lead in the tour, with Drew Neilson, another Canadian, closely behind him. Drew ended up 11th in both races with spectacular crashes in the final rounds.

On the women’s side, only one Canadian showed face for the events. Dominique Maltais endured a month of travel with nothing but the boys, and came out on fire! In her last four races Dominique has placed first, first, ninth, and first!

Two weeks prior to the World Cups in Nassfeld she won a Europa Cup and a FIS race at Moelltaller Gletscher. She then dominated the time trials at the first World Cup in Nassfeld but ended up ninth.

Nothing stood in her way on day two; she cleaned everyone’s clock in the time trial and in every heat leading up to and in the final. With her first World Cup victory under her belt she has all the confidence she needs to compete in the Snowboard World Championships in Whistler next month.

My next bit of information came from coach Tom Hutchinson. He was at the bottom of the halfpipe in Colorado relaying information to me over his cell phone while coaching and filming the training session. Talk about multitasking!

I asked him how everything was going and how the pipe conditions were. He told me they were pretty good. This really meant, "The pipe is sick, you’re missing out huge!" I later got word three Canadian guys made it to the finals.

Coach Tom called me again right after the finals finished. He must have known I was eager to hear how our guys faired against the powerhouse American team.

Despite the fact that the Americans cleaned up in the girls’ event and took the top two spots on the men’s side, Canada showed some impressive runs. Justin Lamoureux took home bronze, while Hugo Lemay and Brad Martin placed ninth and 10th respectively.

There’s now less than a month to go before the World Championships. The snowboard cross team members received their official invitations over the weekend. Three of the four men are B.C. boys, led by Drew Neilson.

Drew, a former Vernon resident who now calls Deep Cove home, has good friends Tom Velisek, also from Vernon, and Rob Fagan of Cranbrook on the team. Quebec’s Jasey-Jay Anderson will fill the fourth spot.

The women’s side has some B.C. blood as well. Erin Simmons, who has qualified for a spot on the team, grew up in West Vancouver but has been living in Steamboat Springs, Colorado.

I will be the second B.C. gal on the squad. Montreal’s Dominique Vallee, who now resides in Squamish, and Quebec’s Dominique Maltais are the two other ladies on the championship team.

The other disciplines have yet to be announced, but I’m sure even more B.C. athletes will fill some of the spots.

On behalf of everyone at the Canadian Snowboard Federation, I would like to wish all Sea to Sky residents a very happy holiday season filled with family, fun, and, most importantly, MORE SNOW!


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