Matt Morison cracks top 10 

Alpine snowboarders start season in Saas Fee

The Canadian Snowboard Federation’s alpine team got the race season off to a solid start at Solden, Austria this past weekend with Matt Morison in the top-10, and several other riders coming close in the parallel giant slalom.

The men raced on Saturday. Ontario’s Morison, who won three World Cup medals as a rookie last season, had the outstanding performance of the day, finishing in sixth place.

“We almost didn’t start Matt today,” said alpine head coach Mark Fawcett, after Morison showed up with a severe case of jetlag. “He was only at about 70 per cent, but he wanted to go and his performance was exceptional. He beat Rok (Flanders, the overall winner) in their first head to head, and then he made a small mistake in the second run and Rok just got him. I was really impressed with Matt today — despite how he was feeling, he cracked the top eight which is pretty amazing.”

Morison settled for sixth after pulling out of his last race, essentially giving fifth place to Mathieu Bozzetto of France.

Flanders edged out Daniel Biveson of Sweden for the gold medal, while Adam Smith of the U.S. beat Karl Benjamin of Austria in two races to pick up the bronze.

Canada’s Jasey-Jay Anderson was 17 th , Michael Lambert 28 th , Adam McLeish 34 th , and Patrick Farrell 43 rd .

In the women’s race on Sunday, the top Canadian was Richmond’s Alexa Loo in 15 th place. Loo sat out most of last season with a knee injury, after a breakthrough year in 2005-06 that saw her earn her first World Cup podium.

Caroline Calve of Quebec placed 31 st , but made up for her mistakes in her first run to make things close in her second run.

“Today’s course was frozen and foggy — much more difficult than the men’s race yesterday, but Alexa was riding well, particularly just coming back from her knee injury,” said Fawcett. “She had the lead in her first run and made the finals, so we’re really happy with how she’s progressing so far.”

Fawcett credited the team’s respectable results to new funding from Own The Podium and training in the off-season.

“We just have to work on results now because no one is out-riding us, we’re just gaining experience,” said Fawcett.

So far this season the Canadian Snowboard team has earned five World Cup podiums, all in snowboardcross, and 10 top-10 results.

The next event on the calendar is a World Cup halfpipe event at Saas Fee, Switzerland Nov. 1-2.

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