Local halfpipe riders held out of Sochi finals 

Lipscomb 'beaming' after Tsuyuki's result, Whistler's Nicoll injured

click to enlarge PHOTO COURTESY OF CANADIAN OLYMPIC COMMITTEE - Bumpy ride Whistler's Mercedes Nicoll, seen here competing in the women's halfpipe qualifiers, was injured on Wednesday, Feb. 12 and did not advance beyond the first round.
  • photo courtesy of Canadian olympic committee
  • Bumpy ride Whistler's Mercedes Nicoll, seen here competing in the women's halfpipe qualifiers, was injured on Wednesday, Feb. 12 and did not advance beyond the first round.

Crispin Lipscomb may not have advanced out of his halfpipe snowboard qualifier in Sochi this week, but he was still grinning from ear to ear on Wednesday, Feb. 12.

That's because Katie Tsuyuki, the Squamish-based rider he's been coaching and training with parallel to the national team program, placed 13th in the women's event for the top Canadian finish.

"Proudest day of my coaching career," Lipscomb said in an email to Pique. "(I'm) beaming right now."

Tsuyuki and fellow local transplant Alexandra Duckworth both made it through to Wednesday's semifinals, but were unable to move on from there. Tsuyuki placed seventh in the round, but only the top six advanced to the 12-rider final.

Meanwhile, Whistler's Mercedes Nicoll put on an inspiring performance following a terrible crash during the warm-ups for her qualifier on Wednesday, but did not make it to the later rounds.

Nicoll posted a video to her Instagram account of her crash, which happened when practicing her backside 900. She landed on the lip of the pipe and flipped over backwards, landing awkwardly on her shoulder.

"This explains my riding today... practice run took me out... Sorry Canada," she wrote in the post's caption.

Nicoll's second run looked like it might have been enough to get her through to the semis, but she fell on her last hit and was in obvious pain, clutching her leg.

She also posted photos to her Twitter account later, one showing her on crutches on the way to watch her teammates in the semis, and another of her sporting a nasty black eye.

Nicoll wasn't the only victim of the second-heat warm-ups — reigning world champion Arielle Gold of the U.S. was also on the start list but pulled out after injuring herself on a fall in practice just minutes before the heat began.

In the men's event, Lipscomb fell victim to poor pipe conditions falling on his first qualifying run, while his second trip through the pipe on Tuesday, Feb. 11 scored a 65.25 he fell a few points short of getting through to the next round.

Despite getting stuck in the early rounds, Lipscomb said he was feeling good about how things went in his second trip to the Olympics.

"I wished to have delivered my best runs possible, but the pipe was a challenge and the whole field of competitors had to deal with terrain issues," said the 34-year-old, the oldest rider in the field. "It's an honour to shred with this group of shredders and to wear the Team Canada colours. I have had a huge amount of support from fans and family, and that's what counts most for me."

Fellow Canadians Derek Livingston and Brad Martin were also eliminated in the qualifying round on Tuesday.

The men's event was won by Swiss rider Iouri Podlatchikov, while silver and bronze went to Japan's Ayumu Hirano and Taku Hiraoka. Shaun White finished fourth. The women's final was in progress at press time.


Regina's Mark McMorris delivered Canada's first medal of the Games, riding through the pain of a broken rib for bronze in the debut of men's slopestyle at the Olympics.

McMorris survived a tense semifinal and needed his second run to count in the finals on Saturday, Feb. 8, then watched 10 other riders come down the course while hoping his score of 88.75 would hold up. It did, and he shared the podium with U.S. gold medallist Sage Kotsenburg and Norway's Staale Sandbech, who took silver.

Canadian riders Maxence Parrot and Sebastien Toutant finished fifth and ninth, respectively.

In the women's final on Sunday, Feb. 9, B.C. rider Spencer O'Brien had trouble with the second jump on both of her runs and finished 12th. Whistler resident Jenna Blasman, who rode with a broken wrist, was eliminated in the semifinal and finished 19th.

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