Snowboard-cross racer Zoe Bergermann has had a challenging 2014-15 season.
The Erin, Ont. native hasn't been herself for much of the campaign after getting sick at a training camp in Argentina in September. Bergermann, 20, acquired a virus that triggered an autoimmune disease and kept her sidelined for two months.
Still not at 100 per cent, but getting close, Bergermann overcame seven other competitors on April 17 to capture the first-ever women's boarderstyle title as part of the Monster Energy Shred Show.
"It feels good to be back and be able to take a win, especially going into the summer training months," she said. "You don't really think about getting sick on trips. You worry more about getting injured."
Bergermann, who edged out Brooke Voigt, Marie France Roy and Alex Duckworth in the final, said she signed up primarily to boost numbers in the inaugural event and was glad to end up as part of its history.
She's close to capping the drawn-out recovery process, which Bergermann hopes to have behind her soon.
"It's definitely been long. The doctors told me it would be at least six months before I even started feeling normal again and I didn't believe them," she said. "I was just pushing myself in the gym and around doing stuff. It's definitely noticeable. I'm feeling weak and tired.
"But now I feel pretty good and I'm on a good training plan and I feel a lot better."
She got back to compete at the World Championships in Austria in December, but still wasn't quite back on top of where she needed to be.
"Being on snow and training with those long days, it was very clear that I wasn't ready for it," she said. "It wouldn't be until about March, late March I'd say, that I started feeling better and started to push myself a bit more on my bike."
As for the Shred Show race itself, Bergermann acknowledged she had some worries about what was ahead, but gradually grew more comfortable with the course with each passing run.
"It was definitely my start and the line I chose through the course, really looking ahead and planning for what's coming next," she said. "I was very intimated at the start, with the water feature and the barrels and the big jump at the end, I didn't know what to expect, but after you do a few lines and you sort of get in a groove, I felt really good."
Bergermann noted she doesn't have a freestyle background like the three others in her final did.
"I was able to hold them off and it was a good feeling," she said.
Bergermann will call Whistler home for the summer, as she is an avid cyclist.
On the men's side, fellow Ontarian Scot Brown came out with the win, defeating Harrison Gray, Nev Lapwood and Derek Livingston in the finals.
Brown started quickly right out of the gate and used it to his advantage all day long.
"I got the fastest time in the time trials and that really helped, because then I got to pick what gate I wanted to go in when we were racing with four guys," he said. "I just picked the gate that we did the time trials in because it's just the best gate.
"It's a good angle at the first corner to go around the fastest."
Like Bergermann, Brown, 24, said some of the race infrastructure, particularly the barrels, was challenging as there was no good line through them. In one of his practice runs, he nailed one with his rear end and his arm and was in pain for a good 10 minutes not long before the time trial.
"The first run-through in practice, it was very intimidating," he said. "I got a decent practice run in my third run and tried to go through (the barrels) and I ended up nailing one of the barrels."
Clarksburg, Ont.'s Brown, spending his first full winter in Whistler, made the semifinals in the event three years ago, but was injured the following year. He was a little distracted last year as it coincided with a reunion with his girlfriend, and he hungered to return to the event this year.
"I was looking forward to it for two months," he said. "I couldn't stop thinking about it and I thought it might psych me out, but I ended up winning."
In the slopestyle invitational, Regina's Mark McMorris won the $10,000 first prize, and was followed by Kyle Mack and Maxence Parrot. The three put up some eyepopping scores, with McMorris notching a 96.00, Mack a 93.00 and Parrot a 92.50. Whistler resident Darcy Sharpe was just off the podium, finishing fourth with a 91.16 score.
Full results are available at wssf.com.
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