Finestone, Pelchat take provincial wins 

Whistler Valley Snowboard Club stars at home competition

click to enlarge PHOTO BY ROB PICARD - FLYING HIGH Juliette Pelchat excelled at the first provincial series event of the season at Whistler Blackcomb on Jan. 12 and 13.
  • Photo by Rob Picard
  • FLYING HIGH Juliette Pelchat excelled at the first provincial series event of the season at Whistler Blackcomb on Jan. 12 and 13.

Finn Finestone and Juliette Pelchat went back-to-back in their first action of the BC Snowboard Provincial Series on Jan. 12 and 13.

The 15-year-old Finestone won both men's events and the 14-year-old Pelchat topped both women's competitions as the Whistler Valley Snowboard Club (WVSC) opened its season at Whistler Blackcomb. Weather conditions forced organizers to cancel the big-air event planned for Sunday and bump the two slopestyle competitions back a day.

Finestone started the weekend with a score of 91.75, topping Julien Canniccioni of Team Bueno (86.75) and WVSC teammate Truth Smith (81.50) and then improved to an even 94.00 the next day as he emerged over WVSC's Liam Stevens (88.25) and Canniccioni (86.75).

Finestone said he entered the competition with confidence, which grew each time out as he was able to push his limits.

"The runs that I ended up winning with were the biggest runs I've ever done in a contest," he said. "I had two new tricks I learned last year, which were two different double variations, so a switch frontside double (900) and a back double (1080) on the jumps. I had a good score on those two back to back, but the one trick I think made the score higher was I did a big trick (frontboard 630 out) off the second rail that I had learned two days before."

Finestone acknowledged feeling some nerves before busting out the new trick, but with a practice run before finals, said he gave it a trial run to warm up before feeling comfortable pulling it out of his toolbox.

"My plan was to do an easy trick on it first and then do my first finals run. If I stomped the first finals run to what I wanted it to be like, then I would extend the (second) run and add that trick in," he said. "It worked out and I managed to land that trick perfectly."

Pelchat, meanwhile, earned a 70.25 on Jan. 12 as she shared the podium with teammates Jackie Carlson (66.25) and Maggie Crompton (55.50). She nudged her score up to an even 71.00 on Sunday, trailed by Carlson (66.25) and Crompton (64.50).

Pelchat explained she found the right combination of preparedness and nerves en route to her double-gold weekend. She felt her execution, as much as her choice of tricks, was key to her score.

"The flowiness of the tricks (was important), and I performed them pretty well," she said, adding that she performed tricks such as indie grabs off the bigger jumps to boost her tally."I start with a run I know I can put down and then I build up from there."

WVSC head coach Rob Picard said the club contingent of 32 was its largest ever at a provincial event, which he credits to the strength of both the sport and the team.

"With our recent snowfalls, we've been having issues getting in the park. We love the snow, but we haven't had a lot of major training up until the weekend besides working on some skills. It was nice to see everybody put their run down," he said. "Everybody had an idea of what they wanted to do, they had two days to do it and everyone walked away pretty happy."

An additional motivating factor for many of the club's athletes is the upcoming Canada Winter Games in Red Deer, Alta. from Feb. 15 to March 3. Picard anticipates that WVSC could send four of the province's six slopestyle athletes to the Games if they perform well in this weekend's continuation of the provincial series at Big White and then an Air Nation tour event at Sun Peaks from Jan. 22 to 24.

"We've got the Big White contest coming up on the weekend, and the Sun Peaks one, the results from that will choose the people that are going to be going to Canada Games," Picard said. "I know it's important for the families and the kids to be able to have that opportunity."

While Finestone was certainly in the mix coming into the weekend, he also knows he's much closer to securing himself a spot with two wins.

Pelchat added it would mean a lot for her to qualify for her first national-level event.

"There are going to be a lot more girls competing and it'll be against (athletes from all over) Canada," she said.

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