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The long road to the Olympics

By Maëlle Ricker

My favourite week of the season ended. I managed to enjoy quite a bit of the Telus World Ski and Snowboard Festival this year.

I can’t believe how lucky Whistler is to have all those great events at once. Each part of the festival could have easily been an event on its own.

After already competing the weekend before, the next week for the snowboarders seemed like another powder vacation with great après! Some of my fellow riders went south for the Team Challenge in Colorado, but I stayed in town to take in all the action.

Toots and the Maytals, and Michael Franti and Spearhead were amazing. Even if you’re in the worst mood, listening to either band is enough to turn your frown upside down.

I also made it out to the Lords Of Dogtown movie premier and the Pro Photographers Showcase. Both shows were so impressive I didn’t even realize it was almost midnight by the time I rolled out the conference centre for the evening.

The dog parade was classic. Some dogs were so stoked and proud to be cruising around the village, while others rolled their eyes at their owners for dressing them up in silly costumes and embarrassing them in front of all their doggies pals.

With all the events going on in the village, I still got up on the hill for some great riding. The weekly weather produced more fresh snow, and I produced more fun runs with my beat down legs.

Justin Lamoureux felt the wrath more than me, though – he wrestled a couple of trees on Whistler and came out with a broken ankle. I talked to him after surgery and he was already gearing up for some summer work on the glacier.

I’ll be joining Justin on Blackcomb come mid-June when Glacier Snowboard Camp starts up again. Before the summer season starts though there’s lots of fun on the National Team schedule.

First thing’s first. The team has to be picked. We received our invitations over the phone and the contracts followed shortly after in the mail. The technical term is actually "Athlete’s Agreement."

Because I was fortunate enough to be invited to both the halfpipe and snowboardcross team, I was lucky enough to receive two "agreements." Six trees, an entire ink cartridge, and two very sore eyes from reading pages of small print legal terminology later, I finally signed my life away and am ready to take the next step.

The halfpipe team stayed the same as last year. Mercedes Nicoll, Dominique Vallée, Sarah Conrad, and myself will join up with Justin Lamoureux, Crispin Lipscomb, Dan Raymond, Brad Martin, and Hugo Lemay.

The snowboardcross team remained the same as well with three women and five men on the squad. Dominique Maltais, Erin Simmons, and I will be joining the travelling antics of Tom Velisek, Rob Fagan, Drew Neilson, Francois Boivin, and Jasey-Jay Anderson.

The alpine team slimmed down a bit in size. Alexa Loo will be holding her own on the women’s side with two crazy Frenchmen, Jasey-Jay and Phil Berube.

Summer training camps are approaching fast and will be crucial for learning new tricks and building confidence for next season. The halfpipe and snowboardcross team are going to Mammoth in May to take advantage of the slushy spring conditions.

With the Olympic selection period ending in mid December, everyone will be hunting down some good results.

The selection process is complicated. You have to meet criteria from the International Olympic Committee, the Canadian Olympic Committee, and the Canadian Snowboard Federation. I will try my best to explain how it works – please take into account that it’s extremely complicated and I might not be completely accurate. Here goes.

First of all, you must have 120 FIS points. FIS points are the points you are awarded for your two best results. You must also have a top 25 placing on the World Cup Tour.

You are required to be in the high performance program with the Canadian Snowboard Federation. This means you need to be a member of the National Team or one of the development teams.

Once you have met all of those requirements, you have to make sure you have better results than your teammates. Canada only has 16 starts for all three events for men and women (halfpipe, snowboardcross, and PGS), and there can only be a maximum of four Canadians in each event for each sex.

Riders with two top-five finishes on World Cup will have priority over the riders who have three top-eight finishes, who have priority over riders who have placed in the top half of the field of a World Cup contest four times. If you have not placed in the top half of a World Cup contest at least four times then you do not qualify for the Olympics.

There are also provisions for athletes who have been injured.

Now that I have made no sense and am a little confused myself, I would like to wish everyone a very marvelous May. Until next year…