HALIFAX, NOVA SCOTIA
Yukon’s snowboard team had two goals last week at the Canada Winter Games, competing at Ski Martock in Windsor, Nova Scotia.
One was to have a rider reach a final, the other was for the team to perform well and have fun. Done and done.
“It really gives perspective of where we are in the country,” said Yukon head coach Mary Binsted. “It was a great Games to be a part of. It was nice to see the fruition of some of the programs we’ve been working on and trying to put in place the last three or four years. It started with nobody signing up for clinics to having 20 people in full-time programs.”
Not only did a Yukoner make a final, another Yukoner almost made it past qualifying in snowboardcross on Saturday.
Yukon’s Alexander Chisholme finished 17th in qualifying, just half a second out of 16th and the event’s quarterfinal.
“I do like the slopestyle and the halfpipe more than the boardercross, but it does seem I have a knack for it,” said the 19-year-old. “The first qualifying run went alright – I made a few mistakes and noticed I was slow in a few sections. I came out with a 1:07 and that put me in 18th place.
“There were definitely people who were going to improve in their second run too, so I knew I had to step it up. So I figured a few things out, picked some new lines on the course, figured out some new techniques for the jumps, and went for my second run and shaved a second and a quarter off.”
Chisholme, who currently resides in Medicine Hat, will be representing the Yukon at the 2011 Speed Nationals in snowboardcross in Lake Louise, Alberta, in April. He will be the only rider from the territory at the event.
“He’s really good at reading lines; he carves and edges well,” said Binsted. “He’s passionate about freestyle, but he’s also talented in some of the racing aspects of snowboarding. He tends to be our fastest snowboarder as well, so we named him our top snowboardcross rider for the Games.”
Yukon teammates Max Melvin-McNutt and Thomas Mills finished 25th and 28th respectably on Saturday. In the female division Yukon’s Lara Bellon came in 19th. Yukon’s other female rider, Kayla Hallonquist, who was 14th in the halfpipe, did not compete in the snowboardcross due to an injury.
The obvious highlight of the week for the team was Melvin-McNutt’s performance on the halfpipe, not only squeaking into the final in the 12th and final spot, but moving up four spots into eighth on Thursday.
“I was pretty stoked. I haven’t rode much halfpipe,” said Melvin-McNutt. “I was the underdog, especially compared to those guys in the final because a lot of them were really good.
“So when I found out I was in the final, I was just happy to be there.”
In his best of two runs in the finals, Melvin-McNutt had five “hits” (tricks performed while airborne), starting with a frontside indy-double poke, to a method, to a frontside 720 – landed for the first time in competition for Melvin-McNutt – to a switch 540, ending in a frontside 540.
Yukon was unrepresented in the opening snowboard event at the Games, the parallel giant slalom.
“That race involves a different type of equipment and speedsuits,” said Binsted. “So we don’t have anyone local who wants to do that, or is interested in that at this level. So we didn’t train for that or enter anyone because we wanted to send a competitive team. We didn’t just want to put someone in an open spot.
“We didn’t enter anybody who we didn’t think was a contender in any category.”
Last week’s competition represents the first time snowboarding was an actual medal event at the Canada Games, instead of just a demonstration event as it was in the 2007 Games in Whitehorse.
Contact Tom Patrick at email@example.com