Halfpipe team kicks off season in windy New Zealand 

The Canadian Snowboard Team has been active through the summer, with on-snow camps in Whistler in the spring, dryland training through the early summer, and trips south of the equator to train on snow through July and August. Most recently the halfpipe team has been training in New Zealand, in preparation for a new World Cup event at Cardona that took place this past weekend.

It was a first for the island nation, and by all accounts the competition was well-organized and well-executed. The only issue was with the wind that played havoc with riders when they were airborne.

On the women’s side, Manuela Laura Pesko of Switzerland won the competition with a strong second run, edging out American riders Lindsey Jacobellis and Clair Bidez.

The top Canadian was Squamish’s Dominique Vallée in ninth place, followed by Charmaine Ironside of Calgary in 11 th , Katie Tsuyuki of Squamish in 15 th , and Sarah Conrad of Nova Scotia in 16 th .

On the men’s side, Ryoh Aono of Japan showed why he was the overall World Cup champion with another convincing win.

“I didn’t expect anything special from this World Cup opener — especially since it was pretty windy out there,” he said. “But my hard preparations for the new season already paid off. I will try to defend my World Cup title.”

Switzerland’s Iouri Podladtchikov and Rolf Feldmann placed second and third.

The top Canadian was Whistler’s Justin Lamoureux, who placed 12 th . Gabriel Dussualt of Quebec was 30 th and Brendan Davis 51 st .

According to halfpipe coach Tom Hutchinson, it was a tough day for the Canadian athletes.

“They put on an exceptional contest here in New Zealand,” he said. “Unfortunately it was an incredibly windy day, and the gusts of wind literally blew Dom (Vallée) into the pipe, causing her to fall in her run. But we had some solid efforts to start things off, and we’re looking forward to a strong season.”

The next outing for the team is the Nokia Snowboard FIS World Cup snowboardcross event in Valle Nevado, Chile. Canadians confirmed for that competition include overall snowboardcross World Cup champion Drew Neilson of North Vancouver, Whistler’s Maëlle Ricker, who placed second in the women’s standings, and the return of Dominique Maltais after missing last season with injuries.

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