One day, many to go 

Behind the scenes at the World Cup

By Maëlle Ricker

The World Cup week has finally come to an end here in Whistler, and I am ready for a couple of months of sleep.

For those of you who didn’t get a chance to get up Blackcomb, I’ll fill you in on the latest Olympic qualification gossip and the rest of the scoop. And there’s a lot of scoop!

On behalf of all my competitors, I’d like to give a huge thanks to everyone who helped out. We had amazing venues on the mountain, especially for this time of year. Even though it would be nice to see more snow falling from the sky right now, the artificial stuff sure did come in handy for building up the snowboardcross course and halfpipe.

The week kicked off with two snowboardcross races. The minute-plus course was a perfect length, long enough to be completely exhausting, but short enough to allow for spectacular passing near the finish.

The award ceremonies took place at the GLC where I watched on the big screen just how much passing took place throughout the entire course.

A great deal of the passes were due to the number of crashes. It was easy to make mistakes in this technical course.

I sure did manage to make a bunch! I ended up going out in the first round of racing on both days. I was like one of those annoying drivers on the Sea to Sky Highway that goes really fast in the straight sections and then slams on the brakes in the corners. Luckily the only thing that I bruised last week was my ego.

It wasn’t a great week for my Dominique teammates either. Dominique Vallée failed to get past time trials in both races. Dominique Maltais destroyed her competitors in qualifying; however, just like me, she couldn’t find her way out of the first round of racing.

Thank goodness one of our girls put on a good show. Erin Simmons stood in third place on the podium two days in a row. She did the exact opposite of Dominique Maltais by qualifying at the back of the pack in time trials, but placing at the front of the pack when it really mattered.

The men’s races were absolutely crazy. Drew Neilson dominated the first day of racing. After placing third in the qualification runs behind Seth Wescott and Shaun Palmer, Drew stepped it up even more. He was first out of the gate every run and led the whole way down the course. Unfortunately in the finals Drew missed a gate and ended fourth.

Jasey-Jay dominated with Drew on day two of snowboardcross. Jasey won the big final and took home the money, the valuable FIS points, and the yellow tour leader bib. Drew ended winning the small final and wrapped up his weekend with a fourth and a fifth place under his belt. Tom Velisek grabbed a seventh and took over the fourth place Olympic spot.

The snowboardcrossers who have met the Olympic qualifications are Dominique Maltais, Erin Simmons, myself, Drew Neilson, Jasey-Jay Anderson, Francois Boivin, Tom Velisek and Rob Fagan. Unfortunately one of the guys will not be competing in Torino because only four are able to enter the Games.

The halfpipe was filled with action as well. The men’s competition was the one to watch because Olympic spots were up for grabs and there were many hands in the cookie jar. Brad Martin pulled a bronze medal performance in the first contest, and was the only Canadian in the finals.

This being said, the pressure mounted even more for the second day of competition. With Brad and Justin Lamoureux having safe Olympic qualification points, the pressure was on for the rest of the boys.

In the second day of halfpipe competition Mercedes Nicoll made a fifth place appearance in the ladies final. The boys had four Canadians in the finals, as Crispin Lipscomb and Dan Raymond got in as well as some of our young gun Canadians. Calgary’s Kory Wright and Ontario’s Jeff Bachelor got their first shots at a World Cup final, and Kory’s style and technical spins earned him a third place.

The halfpipe team members that have earned Olympic qualifications standards are Mercedes Nicoll, Dominique Vallee, myself, Brad Martin, Justin Lamoureux, Crispin Lipscomb, Hugo Lemay, and Dan Raymond. The men’s halfpipe team is in the same situation as the snowboardcross team – five guys have qualified and only four spots are available.

The only thing I know for sure is nothing is written in stone until we are dropping into our runs in Torino this February.

Happy Holidays everyone!

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