By Andrew Mitchell
The FIS Snowboard World Championships wrapped up on Sunday in Arosa, Switzerland with the halfpipe event.
Brad Martin, who trains out of Whistler, picked up Canada’s first and only medal of the championships with a third-place performance in the halfpipe. Martin, 20, is one of the only competitors with a 1260 spin in his trick bag, and his airs are getting bigger every contest.
“It was a fantabulous day,” said Martin. “I came into the world championships expecting to make the finals. My first run felt really good, and I was in 10 th , so I got more practice which really helped. Then I made the finals and it was really cool.”
Whistler’s Crispin Lipscomb made the finals, and finished his day in sixth place. Justin Lamoureux and Dan Raymond, both of Whistler, also competed, with mixed results. Lamoureux made it through the first qualifying round, but ended up in 15 th place, while Raymond finished 44 th while battling a stomach virus.
The win went to Mathieu Crepel of France, who won the big air contest on Saturday. Kazuhiro Kokubo of Japan took the silver, while Finnish riders Janne Korpi and Antti Autti snapped up the fourth and fifth spots between Martin and Lipscomb.
All three Canadian women made it past the first qualifying round, but none made it through to the finals.
Whistler’s Mercedes Nicoll placed 11 th , Sarah Conrad was 14 th , Dominique Vallée 15th and Charmaine Ironside 17 th .
“I had a great first run,” said Nicoll, “but I over-rotated on a front five on my second, and it slowed down the rest of my run. My goal was to make the top 16, and I achieved that, so I’m happy with how the competition went.”
For athletes on the Canadian Snowboard Team, a top-16 in a world championships is one of the criteria to qualify for top-tier funding through Sport Canada’s Athlete Assistance Program. The AAP provides senior carded athletes with $1,500 in tax-free funding, helping to cover their training and competition costs as well as their cost of living expenses.
No Canadians competed in Friday’s big air competition, where Crepel placed first, followed by five Finnish athletes — Antti Autti, Janne Korpi, Sami Saarepaa, Risto Mattila, and Peetu Piiroinen.
There’s no question that the 2007 world championships represented a step back in some ways for the Canadian team. In Whistler in 2005, the team took five medals while 13 athletes qualified for Sport Canada funding. By way of comparison the Canadians won one medal in Arosa; however, 14 athletes finished in the top-16 to qualify for funding.
Still, the results from this year’s world championships are not a good barometer of a team’s abilities. With World Cup competitions cancelled or delayed across Europe, athletes have had few, if any, opportunities to compete against a true international field.