Olympic selection determined in next two weeks 

There's no place like home

By Maëlle Ricker

We’re home. Yes, that’s right, we gave up our gusto in Mammoth and came to Whistler. I still keep an eye on the Mammoth website, and it looks like we made the right decision. We even made it back in time for Whistler’s opening day and got to ride some nice powder and a halfpipe. What more can a girl ask for?

The pipe can by no means be considered perfect, but it has been fun riding a mini version of what we are getting ourselves into next week on Blackcomb. I feel like I’m dropping into the legendary Westbeach Classic contest that used to be held every spring in the same ditch at the top of Emerald Chair. The B.C. Team is riding with us too and it’s been fun to hang out with everyone.

The famous Marilyn has been putting us back together again at the physio clinic every afternoon. We have also taken advantage of the notorious party scene in this town. Most of us were spotted hanging around the Showcase party last Thursday night. I’m also looking forward to joining in the festivities at Dusty’s for the celebration of Whistler’s 40 th and Blackcomb’s 25 th anniversary.

I still can’t believe I am home for so long. Normally we’d be travelling around from place to place, getting nice and tired before Christmas break. To be honest it feels a bit weird to be in one spot for more than a week.

But even though most of us are at home here in Whistler it doesn’t mean we are on break. Next weekend is our last chance to qualify for the Olympic team.

There are two halfpipe and two snowboardcross events at the World Cup on Blackcomb. The results from these competitions will finalize the standings for the pipe and snowboardcross teams for Torino.

The alpine team standings will be finalized the following weekend at the World Cup at Le Relais, near Quebec City.

There’s a catch for getting a coveted spot on the Olympic team – just because we might have met the qualification standards for our prospective disciplines, it still doesn’t mean we are on the team. We are also competing against our teammates from all three Olympic disciplines – halfpipe, snowboardcross and parallel giant slalom.

Unfortunately the IOC can only give big countries 16 spots each for snowboarding. It sounds like a lot but it’s not enough to get four people from each sex into each event at Torino. If life were perfect Canada would be given 24 spots for snowboarding and then you’d only have to worry about being in the top four of your own disciplines.

Jasey-Jay Anderson and I have a bit of an advantage there because we compete in two events. Jasey has met the qualifying criteria for the PGS and snowboardcross. I have met the same criteria for pipe and snowboardcross. Even though we have both qualified for two events we only take up one spot.

Dominique Vallée has a chance to compete in two events in Torino as well. She has already earned start in the halfpipe, but still needs to qualify for snowboardcross. Candice Drouin will be fighting it out with Dominique for that fourth and final spot.

Dominique Maltais, Erin Simmons and I are all somewhat safe with our results already in for the women’s snowboardcross. Jasey-Jay, Drew Neilson, and Francois Boivin are also safe on the men’s side. The top two contenders for the fourth spot for men’s snowboardcross are Rob Fagan and Tom Velisek. Right now Rob is in the lead, but Tom is very close behind him – and there is a pile of other men who could come up with some last minute results.

The girls qualified for pipe right now are Mercedes Nicoll, Dominique Vallee, and myself. Sarah Conrad needs results next weekend and she’ll be in as well.

Just like the men’s snowboardercross team, the men’s halfpipe team is in a battle for Olympic spots. Justin Lamoureux, Brad Martin, and Crispin Lipscomb are somewhat safe. Hugo Lemay is currently in the fourth spot but Dan Raymond is hot on his tail. I’m looking forward to watching Mike Michalchuk put everything on the line next week to attempt a possible national team upset.

Alexa Loo and Jasey-Jay are our only racers qualified at the moment, which means that the competition at Le Relais should be a nerve-racking showdown for everyone. Phil Berube, Kim Zakreski, Constance Boisvert, and Aimee Newton could turn heads and grab spots.

The Olympic team qualification process is always confusing and never makes everyone happy. It’s almost guaranteed that there will be a few protests and some serious drama over the Christmas holidays. I already feel sorry for the staff at the Canadian Snowboard Federation.

Stay tuned for the outcome of this sporty soap opera!

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