World Cup weekend featuring competitions in four disciplines
The second stop of the North America tour of the 2009 Snowboard FIS World Cup leads the world’s best snowboarders into Canada’s East.
Stoneham and Quebec will host a total of four competitions, all in different disciplines, from February 18th to 22nd with the Snowboard Cross stars to open the snowboard weekend on the 18th (qualifiers) and 19th (finals). On Friday (Feb 20th), the freestylers will drop into the new constructed Halfpipe at Stoneham. On Saturday (Feb 21st), it’s time for the first Big Air on North American soil since five years. Right in the centre of Quebec, between two highway wings, organisers have built the ramp in order to provide some in-city snowboard action. On Sunday (Feb, 22nd), the carving cracks wrap up the Stoneham/Quebec World Cup stop with a Parallel Giant Slalom.
Especially the Big Air World Cup which will be the first one ever in Quebec is attracting some major attention. Directly between the wings of route 440, the Dufferin-Montmorency, organisers put up a 10-story-high Big Air ramp. Therefore, the workers used 2,200 metal posts and shuffled 14,000 cubic feet of snow in 56,000 movements. Due to this, all of them lost a lot of fluid as – according to the estimates of the local organising committee – 1,000,000 drops of sweat hit the ground. No wonder that the world’s best Big Air riders are up to providing some spectacular action at their season’s fourth Big Air contest.
In the starter field of Saturday’s event, Neil Connolly is the Canadian hope for a good result. The 26-year-old was able to win his sole Big Air World Cup five years ago at Kreischberg and celebrates his comeback in this discipline after his last appearance in Winterberg 2006. He has to face some strong competitors such as current World Cup leader Stefan Gimpl from Austria who is close to his third title due to 2,100 points so far. In addition, 2009 World Championships runner-up Seppe Smits (BEL), Marco Grilc (CRO), Matevz Petek (SLO) and the strong Norwegian squad including Gjermund Braaten and Roger Kleivdal hit the kicker.
Also for the other three contests being staged in Stoneham, the ski resort located only 30 car minutes North of Quebec, top snowboarders from all over the world have registered to start. In the Snowboard Cross, Markus Schairer is getting ready to defend his World Cup lead. The 2009 World Champion who won his first ever World Cup race last week currently sits in first position of the ranking with 3,160 points having a comfortable lead over 2006 Olympic Champion Seth Wescott (USA, 2,450) and Mike Robertson (CAN, 2,170). On the ladies side, Lindsey Jacobellis (USA, 3.850) aims for her season’s fourth victory leading the standings ahead of Sandra Frei (SUI, 3.050), World Champion Helene Olafsen (NOR, 2,430) and Maelle Ricker (CAN, 2,370).
For the Halfpipe competition, World Cup leading 2009 World Champion from Japan Ryoh Aono is the main aspirant for Gold. However, Canada’s Crispin Lipscomb, 2009 WCS Silver medallist Jeff Batchelor and Justin Lamoureux, who was the best of his team last weekend as fifth, are ready to do better than in Cypress where none of them made it on the podium. In the ladies contest, Torah Bright (AUS), French Anne Pellissier and Sophie Rodriguez as well as Ursina Haller and Sina Candrian (both SUI) are expected to battle for the win also facing Shiho Nakashima and Soko Yamaoka from Japan.
In the Parallel Giant Slalom, all reigning Parallel World Champions from 2009, Marion Kreiner, Benjamin Karl (both AUT), Jasey-Jay Anderson (CAN) and Fraenzi Maegert-Kohli (SUI) will tackle the course. They all will meet with the top ranked riders of the current World Cup standings led by Doris Guenther and Siegfried Grabner from Austria.
At the Halfpipe contest at Cypress, Kelly Clark and Shaun White impressively underlined that the Olympic Champion from 2002 and her fellow countrymen who won in 2006 are the top aspirants for another Gold medal at Vancouver 2010.
In the last competition of the 2009 FIS Snowboard World Championships Gangwon, Korea, one Finnish rider proofed once again that Big Air is its home country’s domain.
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