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Jeff Ihaksi: Course builder to the ’cross stars

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  • Jeff Ihaksi

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“It was a natural progression,” he says. “But then, in my turn, I realized I couldn’t build and race — and do both well. I’d had good race results considering, but I kind of knew already where I wanted to go. When the ISF (International Snowboard Federation) went down in 2002, and it became a question of chasing races just to survive, I decided to stick with my W/B work and focus more on course building.”

This period also marked the rise in popularity of skiercross events. And Ihaksi didn’t hesitate to get involved with designing courses for the two-plank ’cross set. “Snowboard contests were kind of in decline there for a while,” he says. “The skiercross thing really helped spark things up again.”

So what about the Olympics and building the snowboardcross course there: how did that ever come about? “I’ve got to give credit to YP — Peter Young — for that one,” answers Ihaksi. “When Whistler hosted the World Championships in 2005, YP insisted they hire me to build the snowboardcross course at Blackcomb.” He smiles. “I guess the FIS guys must have been satisfied with our work, because the next year they asked me if I’d be interested in building the Olympic course in Italy.”

Which is a whole other story — as is the one about his putative role as course designer for the 2010 events. But the time is getting late and Ihaksi still has a lot of tasks to complete before his workday is over. “Please don’t forget to mention the teamwork involved,” he reminds me, just before we part. “That’s the most important thing…”

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