Canadians on top in Chilean World Cup 

Local may have qualified for Olympics

The World Cup snowboarding season got an early start – or late finish – last week with an official event in Valle Nevado, Chile. With the 2002 Winter Olympics just around the corner, the event was an important qualifier for the athletes, who are competing for a limited number of spaces in the halfpipe and freestyle events.

The event was considered the last of the 2000-2001 season, and for many a last chance to earn a quota spot for their countries and themselves in the Winter Games.

Whistler’s Lori Glazier, a member of the 1998 Olympic Team, may have earned herself a spot with a fourth place finish in the halfpipe on Sept. 7.

"Lori was in 27 th last year, and with this result we think she made the cut," said Whistler’s Tim O’Brien, a member of the Canadian Snowboard Federation executive. "The FIS (Federation Internationale de Ski) will release the list at the end of November, and we hope she’s on it."

Glazier, who finished sixth in the World Championships last season, is also optimistic. "It was a tough competition, the best in the world were there, and I stood up beside the reigning gold and silver Olympic medalists on the podium," she says.

"I’m nailing my 720s now, and I’m going to work on my 900s. I’ve seen the best out there. I’m not intimidated any more."

She also credits her performance in Chile to her coach and "best friend Joe McAdoo. He taught me to snowboard and he was there with me in Chile. I don’t know if I could have done it without him."

The only other Canadian woman to qualify for a spot is Vancouver’s Natasza Zurek, who underwent knee surgery this summer to repair a damaged ACL. She is expected back in the fall.

Two Norwegians landed on the podium, with Kjersti Buass and Stine B. Kjeldaas finishing first and third. Nicola Thost, the reigning Olympic champion, won the silver.

"I was having a lot of fun in the pipe today," said Kjeldaas, the world champion and Olympic silver medalist. "And I was really happy for Kjersti – I almost couldn’t concentrate any more. My main goal today was to keep the Olympic spot for Norway."

Other noteworthy Canadian performances belonged to Dominique Vallee in 21 st , Maelle Ricker in 24 th , and Mercedes Nicoll in 32 nd . Ricker, a former world champion in boardercross, underwent knee surgery two weeks before Zurek and is already back on her board. Nicoll hails from Whistler and was a member of the Whistler Valley Snowboard Club before she made the leap to the national team.

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