Bumpy start for team 

A bumpy road usually means you’re headed for a great adventure. I hope this is the case with the start of 2008 for the snowboard team. There were definitely some bumpy starts to the New Year at the opening World Cup in Austria last week.

The alpine team took the stage first at Bad Gastein.   Only Jasey-Jay Anderson managed to pick his way through to the final sixteen. He qualified in fifteenth and had to face World Cup tour leader Matthew Bozzeto of France in his first round of night finals. Unfortunately Jasey didn’t advance to the next round. The next week in La Molina, Spain was better for him, where he was sixth in the parallel slalom.   

The snowboardcross race was the other event in Bad Gastein. The team qualified very well. Dominique Maltais won the women’s time trial.

I only made it a quarter of the way down the course. I crashed in the first corner of my first time trial and decided not   to take a second run. I whiplashed myself and was feeling pretty dizzy.

Rob Fagan stepped up and won the men’s qualification. Drew Neilson, Derek Winterman, and Tom Velisek were also right in the mix. Francois Boivin fell in training and was unable to race at all.

Unfortunately the finals didn’t go as well. Dominique fell near the start in the semifinals. She got tangled up with another rider and ended up in sixth. Rob also fell in his first round of racing. He, and most of the field of racers, had huge problems getting through the second bank corner. It was the crux of the course and racing through it with three other riders made it a tough section to navigate. Almost every heat of racing had a crash in that corner.

Drew and Tom made it into the semi finals with a bit of luck of their side and some amazing passes. Unfortunately the luck ended and Drew had to settle for sixth spot and Tom snuck into the top eight. After five podiums in Chile in September and two more in Colorado in December, the snowboardcross team had to fly home from Austria with a pair of sixth place finishes and no hardware for the first time since last January.

While the alpine and snowboardcross teams are flying around the planet collecting air miles, most of the halfpipe crew has been training in Canada to get ready for the World Cups in Asia in February. Cypress Mountain has built the Olympic halfpipe and the team is getting their first taste of it.

They will be competing all week to see who gets World Cups starts. Brad Martin, Mercedes Nicoll and Dominique Vallee will be at X-Games and will get automatic starts in the World Cup events. I guess if you’re good enough to get invited to the X-Games, then you should be good enough to make a World Cup roster.  

Sarah Conrad and Crispin Lipscomb were the only team members who decided to go over to the European Open in Laax, Switzerland to do the European stop of the Burton Global Open Series. Both of them made it to the semifinals. Sarah has been nursing a bizarre foot injury and couldn’t ride the way she wanted to, so repeating her second place finish from last year was an impossible order to fill. Crispin, who is the reigning champ at the event, didn’t have a good day in the pipe and didn’t crack the top twenty to make the finals cut off.

There have been a lot of little injuries this year. We spent more time in the gym training to help prevent these injuries, yet we are pushing the level of riding and creating more chances to get hurt, too.

Sometimes it’s hard to decipher what is an injury and what is merely being hurt. That was definitely the question running through my mind at the top of the course in Bad Gastein after I crashed in my first qualifying run. I was disappointed to walk away from the course — I was riding well and felt like I could have had a great race. In the end, I’m glad I didn’t race. I got to come home for physio with Marilyn Hellier and get back in top shape for X-Games next week.

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