PRINCE GEORGE, B.C.
Crystal Legoffe quite possibly had the least amount of competitive experience of any snowboarder throwing down at the Canada Winter Games on Friday.
But that didn’t stop the Yukon rider from making the final and setting a Yukon best in slopestyle at Tabor Mountain, just outside of Prince George.
“Wow. That’s so cool,” said Legoffe, on hearing her finish was a top one for Yukon. “This was actually my first slopestyle competition and I was just really happy to place sixth. That’s incredible that I’m the only woman snowboarder from Yukon to place that high. That’s super cool.”
Legoffe placed sixth in the qualifier and then sixth in the final. It’s the highest finish by a Yukoner in snowboarding at the Canada Games, male or female.
Whitehorse’s Max Melvin-McNutt, who is currently on the national development team, set the previous best placing eighth in halfpipe at the 2011 Games.
The previous best for a Yukon female was 10th in the halfpipe in the 2007 Games, set by Katrina Couch, Yukon’s head coach last week.
“This is her first year being part of Snowboard Yukon and her first year in a major competition,” said Couch. “She’s been training so hard, pretty much since (Whitehorse’s) Mount Sima opened the bunny hill park in the preseason. She goes out every Saturday and you can just tell she loves the sport.
“She was on cloud nine. She was riding against some of the strongest female riders in Canada and she was holding her own.”
Legoffe notched her sixth place with a boardslide to 180 off on the boxrail, then a 50-50 to back 180 off the second rail and then 50-50’d the last rail. The 19-year-old did a tail grab on the first jump, a frontside 360 with a tail grab – the big trick of her run – on the second jump and a method on the third jump.
“This is my first year competing,” said Legoffe. “The only other competitions I’ve ever done were just local – Simapalooza and rail jams.
“So it was pretty exciting to go to Canada Games and compete. I had an amazing day and I just want to do more.
“I started snowboarding at (age) four, but I didn’t get serious about slopestyle until last year.”
Legoffe wasn’t the only Yukoner in the final on Friday. Teammate Haylie Grant placed seventh in the qualifier and finished in eighth in the final. The 17-year-old did a gap to boardslide on the drop-down box and a nose grab on the first jump.
“Haylie’s goal was to be fearless, holding speed throughout the course, getting height off her jumps and creating variety in her grabs,” said Couch.
Yukon’s Mackenzie Davy and Reanna Newsome, who did not make the final, placed 11th and 14th, respectively, in the field of 15 boarders.
“We had a strong female team this year, which was the first we’ve ever had,” said Couch. “Usually when we go to Games like this we have trouble filling a full female team. The fact that we had a spare (empty) male spot and a full female team, and all the girls rose to the occasion, was awesome.”
None of Yukon’s three male boarders made the final in slopestyle, but Tim Schirmer came close. Schirmer placed 11th in the qualifier, one spot from making the final, hitting a switchback corked 540 and backside corked
720 on the jumps. Teammates Ethan Davy and Adam Waddington came 15th and 16th in the field of 18 boarders.
“I feel like I could have done a bit better, cleaned up my runs,” said Schirmer. “Eleventh place … kind of bummed me out. But I’m still happy with 11th. I feel like I’ve done a good job.”
The Yukon team also competed in snowboardcross on Saturday. Mackenzie Davy was the only Yukoner to make it past the opening round. She advanced with second place in her first heat and placed third out of the four riders to be eliminated in the quarterfinal.
“I did an individual time trial for (snowboardcross) in Big White a couple weeks ago, but we never actually got to race against other people,” said Mackenzie. “So this was my first time actually competing against anybody else.
“It was interesting. I’d never done it before, so it was cool to try something new.”
Mackenzie was originally an alternate and was added to the roster when Yukon’s Lara Bellon scratched with an ACL injury. Yukon originally had a full male team until Esa Suominen broke his shoulder at the competition in Big White before the Games.
“It’s been amazing,” said Mackenzie. “I was originally the alternate for the snowboard team, so I wasn’t even planning on going. Then I got some news a week before Canada Games that I was going … I had to figure everything out pretty quick.”
The Yukon snowboard team did not compete in the parallel giant slalom event on Feb. 24 at the Games.
“I was talking to a lot of the officials and some of the representatives from Canada Snowboard, and we made a name for ourselves out of pure toughness and that we were fearless,” said Couch. “We were taking the course head-on.
“The people who built the course helped build the course in Sochi (for the 2014 Olympics). So the fact that we come from the Yukon and we were charging with some of the best and going full throttle and dialing, was making our name known.”
Contact Tom Patrick at firstname.lastname@example.org