Unlike the slalom and freestyle skiers who were vying for positions on Yukon’s Arctic Winter Games teams this past weekend at Mt. Sima, snowboarders were out both Saturday and Sunday, hoping to land jumps – and spots on team Yukon.
However, no final selection has been made – that’s still a while off.
Twenty boarders attended Saturday’s giant slalom and Sunday’s freestyle events in pursuit of being one of 10 selected for a training camp, from which the final team will be chosen.
“We used to do it that way (with an immediate selection), but we decided that because there’s so many facets to snowboarding, particularly at the Games – each snowboarder has to do half-pipe, boarder-cross, slopestyle and slalom,” said Chris McNutt, president of Snowboard Yukon. “Skiers basically have a freestyle discipline and a race discipline, which is completely different. Snowboarders have to do everything. That’s how they have it set up at the Arctic Winter Games.
“We have some riders that came out and did really well on the race side of it and we have ones that did really well on the freestyle side of it, so we need to have a little more of a look. That’s a common format out there.”
Easily landing an invitation to the camp was Max Melvin-McNutt, coming second in the giant slalom behind Reg Clark and first in the slopestyle events (jumps or “big air” and rails) on Sunday.
If selected, it will be his second trip to the Games, taking fifth in the big air competition in 2008.
“This year I have the goal of winning medals at the Games,” said Melvin-McNutt.
Securing a first-place finish in the slopestyle, Melvin-McNutt completed a switch 540 followed by a backside 540 in both runs. On the rails he performed a boardslide 270 out, a tail presst 180 out, front board slide and a 270 to a front board slide.
Although competition was fierce in the large juvenile males category, in the juvenile female and the junior male categories there were so few applicants that the selection process was over before it began.
“We only had three people in the junior boys category, so they’re all getting an invite,” said McNutt. “We’re going to try to invite four from each category.
“We only had two girls – they’re getting an invite.”
“There was only one other girl, so (McNutt) said if we want to be on the Arctic Winter Games team, we can,” said Talia Woodland, one of the two girls out for the trials. “They’ll train us so we don’t do badly.”
Woodland did compete in a non-competitive RBC Riders race last season at Mt. Sima, but other than that, she is new to slalom and even newer to jumps and rails.
“I had never hit a rail before or jumps that big,” said Woodland. “The first time I hit the medium jump was 10 minutes before the competition started. I kneed myself in the face the first time I did it. The second and third time I didn’t knee myself in the face, so that was good.”
The territory can send as many as eight boarders to the Games, two boys and two girls from junior and juvenile. However, with no junior women out over the weekend, the Yukon might only have six going, provided each of the two juvenile girls make the final cut.
“For sure we’ll send four boys,” said McNutt.
“The Yukon always has some strong riders and looking at our team and are thinking we’re pretty excited about the talent we have.”
Male riders who received invitations to the camp are Melvin-McNutt, Clark, Thomas Mills, Tim Schrimer, Alidas Jamnicky, Alex Chisholme, Patrick Parker and Geoffroi Boucier.
Both female riders, Kayla Hollanquist and Woodland, received invitations as well.
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