Snowboard team ahead of the game 

Rolling into Stoneham

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The snowboard team is still on a roll going into the last World Cup event of the year. Leading the charge is B.C.’s own Drew Neilson. He has been unstoppable in all three World Cup snowboardcross races this year, and even took the Jeep King of the Mountain tour title in Telluride a couple weeks ago.

Drew dominated in Japan and followed his winning trend right through this week in Lake Placid. There is only one guy who can stop Drew from grabbing the overall World Cup tour crystal globe. Nate Holland from Sandpoint, Idaho has placed second in all those World Cups right behind Drew. Now Holland has a 600 point deficit to make up this weekend at Stoneham, Quebec. The chances are slim — he would have to win, while Neilson finished well back of the podium — but I’m sure the race will be a nail-biter anyway.

I, too came close to a chance at the crystal globe this year. Unfortunately my performance in Lake Placid last weekend was less than stellar for the two-race stop — half of our World Cup season as a result of cancelled events in Europe. After a fourth place in the first race, I was ready for some redemption. On the second day of racing, however, I didn’t even qualify in the top-16 and had to sit out the afternoon finals. American Lindsay Jacobellis won both races and secured her tour title with more than a 1,000 point lead over me going into the finals in Quebec this Saturday. I guess I forgot to give her a Christmas present earlier in the season.

Jasey-Jay Anderson had a lucrative weekend in Korea a few weeks back. He held off his younger teammates all day in a parallel giant slalom. After taking out Matt Morison in the first round, Jasey-Jay led the rest of the heats right through to the end of the day. Let’s hope Jasey can continue his success in Stoneham on Friday.

Kimiko Zakreski of Alberta had a phenomenal race in Korea. She qualified in the top spot, and she still rode well in the afternoon finals to end her day with a career best fifth place result.

The young pipe rider Jeff Bachelor also went home with a first place trophy in Korea. He and Dan Raymond were the only two Canadian pipe riders at the Korean World Cup. Dan was hurt and still pulled out a seventh place. Jeff topped the field by edging out a Dutchman and Australia’s Andrew Burton.

One stop of the tour a few weeks ago was at Tamarack in southern Idaho. The resort is fairly new and has put some big bucks into making some facilities for freestyle snowboarding. They also went all out for the U.S. Nationals, the last stop of the American Grand Prix circuit.

There was a strong Canadian presence in the SBX event. The course was a bit tricky with all the fresh snow falling every night. It made it hard to clear some of the jumps and ended being a powder cross finals. I managed to keep the lead all day by clearing the track like a snowplow for the girls behind me. Luckily it was hard to pass, because as soon as you’d deviate from the line in front of you there was nothing but fresh snow to slow you down. Single lane racing is the best way to describe the race, just like a snowy day on the Sea to Sky Highway. My boards were fast so it kept me out front to take the win.

Christelle Doyon was on my tail the whole way down the course in the final round. She was battling with the snow and a young American racer right through to the finish. Christelle came out with a third place from the mix. Tom Velisek made it to the finals in Tamarack as well. He was a victim of the snow snakes and couldn’t make any passes to end up in the fourth place position.

Calgary went big this year and hosted a double World Cup halfpipe event. They made a 22-foot superpipe and pulled out all the stops for the contests. The week started slowly, as everyone was getting used to the new pipe size. Sarah Conrad figured it out quickly and made it into the night finals for the first day of competition. She did some amazing straight airs and technical switch tricks to finish in the fifth place spot. Brad Martin stepped up the second night and grabbed the third place spot. His run started with a nice 1080 and finished with a 1260. I guess he figured out how to ride the 22-foot beast.

The FIS World Cup finals are at Stoneham Mountain this weekend just outside of Quebec City. More hardware is on the way… maybe even a crystal globe?

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