Rough start for Canadians in halfpipe 

Anderson fourth, Neilson sixth in snowboard cross

Canada narrowly missed its third World Cup snowboard medal of the season at Saas-Fee, Switzerland last weekend when Mont Tremblant’s Jaysey Jay Anderson fell in the final of the snowboardcross after leading the competition all day.

Anderson, who finished third the week before in the parallel giant slalom, said he was a little overexcited heading into the final.

"I had won all the races before that last one," he said. "I was three quarters of the way down so I only had to cross the finish line to win. I was too aggressive and I messed it all up.

"It’s sad because I’m losing big points in the World Cup standings and I didn’t get a podium. I simply lost a victory here."

After picking himself up, Anderson had to settle for fourth place behind Michael Layer of Germany, Dieter Krassnig of Austria and Vincent Valery of France.

North Vancouver’s Drew Neilson, who trains in Whistler, placed sixth in the race after getting edged out in the semi-final. Neilson won a gold medal at the season opener in Chile back in September.

Francois Boivin of Jonquiere, Quebec was 11 th . Robert Fagan of Cranbrook was 25 th , Tom Velisek of Vernon was 33 rd and Derek Wintermans of Port Coquitlam was 57 th .

In the women’s race, none of the women advanced past the quarter-finals, with Dominique Maltais and Dominique Vallee of Montreal finishing 12 th and 26 th respectively.

Meanwhile, the Canadians struggled in the halfpipe, with none of the 10 men and women qualifying for the finals. Coach Tom Hutchinson said he wasn’t too concerned about the results.

"It was the first time we were back on the halfpipe track since July," he said. "Two days ago they had two hours to train and only 20 minutes yesterday. This explains why we had average results today. Many of our athletes are also testing new equipment at this point."

The Whistler riders fared best, with Justin Lamoureux placing 19 th overall, one place ahead of Crispin Lipscomb. Mike Michalchuck of Pemberton managed to earn a few points as well by cracking the top-30 in 30 th place. Brad Martin, Joel Boylan and Hugo Lemay were 51 st , 65 th and 74 th respectively.

Although he finished dead last, Lemay got points from his coaches for going big, crashing on both qualifying runs while trying to land frontside 900s.

Steve Fisher of the U.S. took the gold medal, ahead of Jan Michaelis of Germany and Kim Christiansen of Norway.

In the women’s competition, Whistler’s Mercedes Nicoll was the top Canadian in 20 th place. Anne-Marie Gauthier and Dominique Vallee earned points by finished 27 th and 29 th respectively, and Sarah Conrad of Nova Scotia just missed the cut, finishing 31 st .

Hannah Teter of the U.S. won gold, followed by Doriane Vidal of France and Soko Yamaoko of Japan.

Because this is an Olympic qualifying year, all of the teams are trying to earn as many quota spots as possible for the 2006 Games. Only 20 women and 30 men will be allowed to compete in the Olympic halfpipe.

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