Canadians close in injury-filled weekend 

Maltais, Anderson high points in ‘dangerous’ World Cup

At least three Canadians were among the many riders injured during a World Cup snowboardcross at Saas-Fee, Switzerland on the weekend. There was some talk of canceling the event after eight men were injured in the qualifier alone, but the officials decided to go ahead with the event as it was one of the last qualifiers for the 2006 Olympic Winter Games.

Despite the risk, the Canadian Snowboard team came close to the podium in Saturday’s snowboardcross, after struggling in the halfpipe event on Friday.

None of the Canadian riders qualified for the finals in halfpipe. For the women’s team, Whistler’s Maëlle Ricker came the closest with a 16 th place first run. Mercedes Nicoll was 22 nd , Dominique Vallée 36 th and Sarah Conrad 38 th .

The win went to Melo Imai of Japan, followed by Linsey Jacobellis of the U.S. and Doriane Vidall of France.

In the men’s pipe the top Canadian was Justin Lamoureux in 16 th , followed by Brad Martin in 21 st , and Dan Raymond in 30 th out of 66 starters.

The win went to another Japanese rider, Kozuhiro Kokubo, followed by Antti Autti of Finland and Vinzenz Lueps of Germany.

Canada’s weekend got a little better and worse in the snowboardcross on Saturday.

Dominique Maltais made the finals, and was in the lead until an error dropped her to fourth behind Marie Laissus of France, Doresia Krings of Austria and Lindsey Jacobellis.

"I had great starts for every race," said Maltais. "In the final I went for broke but I miscalculated a jump and was ejected landing just before a gate I could not avoid. That’s where it ended for me. Once in the air I told myself "oh my God" and I knew that once I landed I would have trouble holding on.

"I was told that I led by about 10 metres (at that point) but because of the many obstacles I wasn’t able to look behind me and assess the situation. If I could have snuck in a glimpse maybe I would have braked before the jump."

Erin Simmons of Vancouver was 11 th , but was one of the Canadians injured. Dominique Vallée of Squamish and Whistler was 25 th .

Whistler’s Maëlle Ricker decided to pull out of the race. With seven knee surgeries in the past five years and a guaranteed spot in the Olympics thanks to a bronze medal performance at the 2005 Snowboard World Championships this past January, she decided to play it safe.

In the men’s cross Mont-Tremblant’s Jasey Jay Anderson just missed the finals but dominated the small final to finish fifth.

Like Maltais, Anderson lost a key lead to an error.

"I led (in the semifinal), and I made a small error," he said. "Then I had to battle for second and third spot and in a turn I was taken out by another rider. It was a treacherous course. In fact I considered not racing because there were several injuries in qualifying."

Nate Holland of the U.S. was first in the men’s race, followed by Xavier Delerue of France, Damon Hayler of Australia, and Francesco Sandrini of Italy.

The other Canadians, Francois Boivin, Drew Neilson, Derek Wintermans and Tom Velisek were 30 th , 31 st , 35 th and 37 th respectively out of 60 starters. Boivin and Wintermans were also injured, and Wintermans is reportedly out for the rest of the season with a torn anterior cruciate ligament.

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