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Snowboard team tunes up

Dan Raymond first in Europa Cup halfpipe

By Andrew Mitchell

Although the alpine team is on a break and the freestyle World Cup season doesn’t get underway until this weekend’s events in Switzerland, both Canadian snowboard teams kept busy by competing in lower tier contests.

In Europe for some on-snow training, members of the national freestyle team took part in a Europa Cup halfpipe event in Saas Fee, Switzerland, along with members from most of the European national teams.

Whistler’s Dan Raymond placed first overall, followed by Ilkka-Eemeli Laari of Finland and Christian Haller of Switzerland, with Germany’s Xaver Hoffmann and Swiss rider Therry Brunner rounding out the top five.

“I tried a new run and it paid off,” said Raymond, who scored a 47.6 out of 50. “The biggest change was starting my run with a switch backside 540. I’m pretty stoked going into next weekend’s double World Cup.”

Raymond’s stock run is unusual in that it includes spins in both directions while going both switch and regular.

Raymond was the only Canadian in the competition. The women’s gold medal went to Manuela Pesko of Switzerland, followed by Paulina Ligocka of Poland and Holly Crawford of Australia.

Meanwhile, the alpine team took part in a two-day Nor Am Cup competition at Copper Mountain, Colorado.

In Monday’s parallel giant slalom, Mont-Tremblant’s Jasey-Jay Anderson placed second for the men, while Michael Lambert of Toronto placed fourth — despite injuring his shoulder in the semi-final. Matthew Morison of Ontario also placed in the top-eight.

On the women’s side Caroline Calvé of Quebec placed first to win the gold medal while teammate Kimiko Zakreski of Calgary finished with the bronze. Alexa Loo of Richmond, B.C. was eighth.

Although Nor-Am Cup competition is a tier below World Cup and competitions don’t usually include European riders, racing coach Mark Fawcett said the results were important.

“It was a big competition with International Ski Federation points to earn,” he said. “Three medals is good and what I was expecting. It’s good for the confidence and an opportunity to gain some racing experience. If you don’t get past the first round at a World Cup it’s a short day of competition. These kinds of races are great preparation.”

For Anderson, a two-time overall world champion, the last year has been frustrating with inconsistent results. Much of that can be attributed to headaches from changing equipment, and switching to the style of snowboards and race setup used by Swiss riders who are dominating the World Cup.

On Tuesday the Canadians earned two more medals in parallel slalom. Kimiko Zakreski of Calgary won the silver in the women’s race, while Lillian Halme of Repentigny, Quebec just missed out on the bronze in fourth place.

Alexa Loo, Constance Boisvert, Megan Bishop and Ekaterina Zavialova were fifth, seventh, eighth and 11 th respectively.

On the men’s side Matthew Morison place third, while Philippe Berube and Cody-Devin Ratcliffe were sixth and 15 th .