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Young snowboard team selected for Games

With the exception of one athlete, the Yukon will have a fresh crop of snowboarders competing at the Arctic Winter Games in Whitehorse this March.

With the exception of one athlete, the Yukon will have a fresh crop of snowboarders competing at the Arctic Winter Games in Whitehorse this March.

Lara Bellon is the only team member who has represented the Yukon at a major Games. She competed at the 2011 Canada Winter Games a year ago in Nova Scotia.

“All of our team, besides Lara, are up-and-coming riders,” said Yukon coach Katrina Couch.

“Most of them fall in the under-16 (juvenile) category so they have this Games and a couple more ahead of them. Tim (Schirmer) is our youngest - he’s 13 - but as you can see, he’s doing great. Lots of skill there and a bright future ahead.”

In fact, the team is so young that all four males on the six-person team are eligible to compete in the juvenile category. But instead of putting the two strongest boarders from the Jan. 22 trials in the older category, Snowboard Yukon entered them in the younger category where they have a better chance of getting a medal. The other two, who are also eligible for the next Canada Winter Games, will have tougher competition in the junior division but will get valuable experience for the next Games.

Entered in the juvenile male category are Adam Waddington and Schirmer. In for the juniors are Alidas Jamnicky and Francis Bouffard.

Bellon will compete in junior female and teammate Haylie Grant will compete in juvenile.

The team’s alternate is Esa Suominen. He’s young enough to compete in the juvenile male category if need be.

The top finisher for the trials was Waddington, taking second in the race event and first in freestyle. Waddington rode to second place at the Sandor’s Icebreaker Rail Jam at Mt. Sima over the holidays and won the U-16 division the previous year. He also came second in 13-16 category at the 2010 Yukon championships.

Schirmer was second overall in the trials, coming second in freestyle and third in the race. He won his division at the Board Stiff Yukon Championships for the last two years and was the 12-and-under Yukon champ in 2010. Schirmer, the only U-16 boarder in the competition, landed third overall at Sandor’s Icebreaker a month ago.

The snowboard competition at the Games consist of four elements: bank slalom racing, snowboardcross, slopestyle and halfpipe. At this point it is undetermined if all the Yukon riders will compete in all four events.

“They don’t have to, but they can compete in all four categories,” said Couch. “We have one young rider, Haylie Grant, who is quite new to the snowboard atmosphere. So over the next month we’ll see how she progresses and hopefully we’ll have our whole team compete in all of them. We may, depending on how everyone is doing - based on safety - choose some elements over others.”

Yukon’s snowboard teams at the 2011 Canada Games and the 2008 and 2010 Arctic Games were at a bit of a disadvantage by not having a functional halfpipe to practice on in Whitehorse. Sima’s halfpipe has not been open since Whitehorse hosted the Canada Winter Games in 2007, but that will change in the near future.

The Yukon News has learned Sima could have the halfpipe open as early as this weekend.

“Right now we have all the snow in the halfpipe to open it. We’ve done the initial part of the grooming, which we do with our grooming machine, and we bought a new halfpipe grinder, which is called a zaugg,” said Sima general manager Parker Hickey. “It’s a state-of-the-art machine that cuts the shape into the halfpipe…. We’ve been working on it and I’d say is should be good to go real soon.

“Our guy is going to take it up and cut the halfpipe so it could be open as soon as this weekend.”

In addition to the work being done on the pipe, construction on a permanent snowboardcross course (on Haley’s run) began on Tuesday. Sima also made major additions to its Coyote Terrain Park last week.

“We put some really big stuff in there and it looks awesome,” said Sima’s outdoor operations manager Sam Oettli of the park.

“We had two tables, which are like big jumps, and now we have four tables set. Some of them have rails and boxes in them. We also built a kiddie rail set off to the side, sort of below the halfpipe so there’s a smaller section there for the little guys to go rip on.”

The Games run from March 4 to 10.

Contact Tom Patrick at