Snowboarders ready for World Cup season 

The snow may be slow in arriving, but the Canadian National Snowboard Team is right on schedule.

The Canadian Snowboard Federation held a National Freestyle Snowboard Camp in Quebec to prepare for the World Cup season, with an emphasis on the events in Whistler from Dec. 12 to 15, and at Stoneham, Quebec, from Dec. 19 to 21.

According to coaches, the objective of the camp was to introduce new elements to the training schedule.

"Our goal was to submit athletes to different exercises in agility and perception of movement, in an effort to improve their positioning during the high amplitude manoeuvres performed in the halfpipe," said Tom "Yoda" Hutchinson, the head coach of the national freestyle snowboard team.

The camp included just four athletes; Guillaume Morisset of Quebec City, Brett Carpentier of Tremblant, Quebec, and Maelle Ricker and Natasza Zurek of Vancouver. The other members of the national freestyle team – Mike Michalchuk, Lori Glazier, Dominique Vallée and Mercedes Nicoll – missed the camp to recover from injuries.

Some of the team’s activities included a session at the Canadian Space Camp in Laval, and time at the Gymnix Gymnastics School, the Olympic Pool and Le Sporting Club du Sanctuaire in Montreal, and Club Gym X Team in Ste. Agathe Quebec. This summer the snowboarders also trained at the Cirque du Soleil acrobatic training centre in Montreal.

"Tom (Hutchinson) is an ex-stuntman who did a lot of work for television and movies," explains Jean-Serge Bidal, the director of business operations and development for the CSF.

"What he is trying to do with the athletes is to practice different manoeuvres so that they know where they are all the time, get a spatial sense of where the ground is, how fast they’re going, how much time they have before they come back down. If they are upside down, they’ll know exactly where their bodies are, and land a lot smoother."

One of the training exercises Hutchinson was planning for this season was flying gliders blindfolded, but the CSF’s insurance company pulled the plug, said Bidal. Now that they have a better understanding of what this would accomplish, the glider training could be included in next summer’s training regimen.

"Basically, we’re trying to get our athletes ready for the World Cup season any way we can," said Bidal.

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