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Whistler rider leads Canadian halfpipe effort

Brad Martin places seventh in opening pipe competition

By Andrew Mitchell

The Canadian Snowboard Team got down to business in Saas Fee, Switzerland last week at the first World Cup halfpipe competition of the 2006-07 season.

It was a strong start for the U.S. team with Scott Lago placing first in the men’s event, followed by Markus Malin of Finland and Daisuke Murakami of Japan.

Gretchen Bleiler of the U.S. won the women’s competition, followed by Soko Yamaoka of Japan and Manuela Laura Pesko of Switzerland.

But while none of the Canadians made the final six, it was close for a pair of Whistler riders.

Brad Martin landed a 1200 spin in his run, but had a fall near the bottom that likely cost him a spot on the podium.

“It was a strong showing for Brad because there was a lot of wind and the course was icy due to the tough weather conditions,” said Tom Hutchinson, head coach for the Canadian halfpipe teams.

“Brad was the only rider to execute a 1200 and just fell at the end. There’s usually a one-point penalty for a fall, therefore Brad could have scored 44 or 45 points with a clean run.”

Lago’s best run in the finals was a 45.3.

Whistler’s Dan Raymond, Justin Lamoureux and Crispin Lipscomb finished in the top-30, placing 15 th , 20 th and 21 st . Hugo Lemay of Quebec was 29 th .

Whistler’s Mercedes Nicoll was the top Canadian woman, in eighth place, while Katie Tsuyuki of Whistler and Sarah Conrad of Nova Scotia were 25 th and 26 th .

The athletes expected to compete in two World Cup events, although Saturday’s event was cancelled due to a storm moving through the region that brought winds of 90 km/h.

While the halfpipe teams were in Switzerland, the snowboardcross squad was warming up for the season with a Europa Cup in Austria.

Whistler’s Adam Livingstone led the way for the development team, winning the consolation final after coming up a little short in the semis. Derek Wintermans, also of Whistler, was 14 th , Simon Bonenfant was 20 th , Robert Fagan 21 st , Jake Holden 23 rd , and Andy Arndt 25 th out of a field of 100 racers.

The top racer was the Czech Republic’s Michal Novotny, followed by Reto Jenni of Switzerland, and David Speiser and Michael Layer of Germany.

None of the Canadian World Cup women raced, opting out due to the icy and dangerous conditions. Mellie Francon and Sandra Frei of Switzerland were first and second, while Zoe Gillings of Great Britain was third and Klara Koukalova of the Czech Republic fourth.

In a second race, on Sunday, Derek Wintermans and Jake Holden placed third and fourth behind Pierre Vaultier of France and David Speiser of Germany. Simon Bonenfant was seventh, Robert Fagan 10 th , Don Schwartz 13 th , Ryan Hickey 25 th and Andy Arndt 26 th .

The women’s podium went to Sandra Frei, followed by Oceane Pozzo of France, and Simona Meiler and Melanie Marty of Switzerland.

The next World Cup event on the calendar is a parallel giant slalom in Italy on Dec. 12, followed by a parallel slalom and back to back snowboardcross races from Dec. 12-16 in Bad Gastein, Austria.