Anderson, Sylvestre in top-15 of parallel slalom 

Austrian women dominate snowboard World Cup

Speed was not as importance as style in the snowboard World Cup parallel slalom in Whistler on Dec. 13, according to Jaysey-Jay Anderson and Jerome Sylvestre, the top Canadians in the race.

"The winner of this race was someone who was very smooth, but also a very strong rider," said the 27-year-old Anderson, who finished the day in eighth place after losing a close quarter-final race. "A softer board would have helped, too."

In a head-to-head race with Michael Dabringer of Austria, Anderson was thrown off-course in the steep section and threw on the breaks to get back on track. Dabringer finished well ahead of the Canadian from Mont-Tremblant, who had to make up 1.25 seconds in the next heat. Over a short course that’s almost impossible, but on the second run, Anderson managed to gain back 0.75 seconds and finish just 0.5 seconds back.

"I learned my lesson on the run before. It’s frustrating not being able to go fast, but I took it easy on the fast section, and was even with Michael until we reached the flats, and that’s where I gained all my speed. A lot of the fast racers lost the race in the steep section today," said Anderson, who is the reigning World Cup champion for the past two years running.

Best two-out-of-three would have been better, but Anderson said he was happy to make the finals and finish eighth.

"Of course the training conditions were different every day we were here. We had every kind of weather possible, so nobody knew what was going to happen on race day. I wanted to get to the podium again, but I’m happy to make the finals. This isn’t my best discipline, but I was third in Sweden the week before, so I’m definitely making progress."

Anderson missed the first events of the season at Valle Nevado, Chile with a concussion, but said that incident is already behind him.

"Every time something like that happens, your head is all over the place for a couple of weeks. But you get out on a snowboard, and everything feels the same, you get your confidence back pretty quickly. But I have started to wear a mouth guard, just for some added assurance."

For Sylvestre, 14 th place was a career-best finish in a World Cup parallel slalom.

"I’m very happy with that, it’s my best result in this event, and I felt pretty strong out there – I didn’t hit my limits. We don’t get many chances to race this event, and it’s in the Olympics, but there will be more chances this year, and so far so good," said Sylvestre. "This year I want to be on the podium."

While the choice to use the parallel slalom instead of the parallel giant slalom or giant slalom in the Olympics was criticized by several athletes, Sylvestre said he likes the format.

"It’s very intense and fast, but you have to be in control, too. There were some spots on the course today where you definitely didn’t want to be going too fast," said the 23-year-old from Bromont, Quebec.

"The course was in really good shape, considering the weather we’ve had, and the volunteers and workers did a great job getting this event off. The red (side of the course) seemed to be a little faster today, but it was also a little harder on the steep section. A lot of the top guys lost the race in that one section."

The race went to Mathieu Bozzetto of France, who edged past Dabringer in the final.

"With the recent new snow, conditions for the race were challening, and organizers did a great job at maintaining the course," said Bozzetto. "I changed my board to a softer one during the finals, which provided more forgiveness during the race – it certainly worked for me in this event."

Felix Stadler beat Philipp Schoch of Switzerland in the small final to take the bronze medal.

In the women’s competition, Maria Pichler, Heidi Krings and Heidi Neururer of Austria were first, second and third respectively.

Whistler’s Alexa Loo was the top Canadian in 18 th place. Helene Cloutier and Aimee Newton were 23 rd and 24 th .

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