Yukon boarders land on B.C. provincial team

This will be a summer of waiting and anticipating for two Yukon snowboarders. Whitehorse's Adam Waddington and Max Melvin-McNutt are already looking forward to hitting the slopes as members of the B.C.

This will be a summer of waiting and anticipating for two Yukon snowboarders.

Whitehorse’s Adam Waddington and Max Melvin-McNutt are already looking forward to hitting the slopes as members of the B.C. Provincial Freestyle Team next season.

Waddington will be spending his first winter with the Whistler-based team next season and Melvin-McNutt will be spending his third, the B.C. Snowboard Association announced last week.

“It’s amazing. I’m really happy,” said Waddington. “It’s something I’ve dreamed about ever since I started snowboarding.

“The day I found out, it was probably the happiest I’ve been. I’m really excited. It feels like I’m moving on to a new life.”

“It’s good to have coaching and guidance to help out with getting involved in the competition scene and the larger competition scene, and help out with learning tricks,” said Melvin-McNutt of being on the team. “It’s a good experience.”

“It’s good to have him. He’s a good rider,” he added of Waddington. “He’ll do well on the team.”

Waddington first caught the attention of B.C. coaches while attending the team’s two-week identification camp, the Shred Camp, last July.

The team then saw Waddington during the season at a pair of big competitions.

“Adam came down last summer and showed us what he is, we gave him some things to work on,” said B.C. team head coach Adam Higgins. “Since he rides with the Yukon Snowboard Team, we see him through the year at contests, and track his progress to see if he’s ready to move up.”

“We’re the Yukon transplant snowboard team,” he added, kiddingly.

Waddington placed 20th in the junior men’s slopestyle competition at Snow Crown – the Canadian freestyle snowboard championships – in Calgary last month. Waddington qualified eighth in his pool and 14th overall in the division.

The 16-year-old then came within two spots of qualifying for the open men’s “pro slope” final.

Waddington was the first Yukoner ever to compete at the freestyle nationals last year, placing 31st out of over 70 boarders in slopestyle and 21st in halfpipe.

He also represented the Yukon at the 2012 Arctic Games and captured gold in the halfpipe and bronze in slopestyle.

He has won open titles at the Yukon Snowboard Championships the last two years.

Waddington placed third for males 15-18 and seventh overall out of 42 boarders at a B.C. Snowboard Provincial Series event in February. After the provincial series Waddington spent a week training with the B.C. team at Whistler.

“He has strong technical skills that makes it look like he’ll progress into a very well-rounded rider,” said Higgins. “He has some bigger tricks that he’s doing and he’s really determined to progress. That helps him move towards being a stronger competitor.”

“Next season I want to get first place finishes at the provincial series and at nationals I’m hoping to place at least top-10,” said Waddington. “I’ll be going to the U.S. Open, but I don’t have a goal for that because I don’t know how the competition will be … My favourite professional snowboarders go in that. So, basically, to land a run in that would be pretty cool.”

Next season will be Melvin-McNutt’s third consecutive on the team. His first two had fantastic beginnings before sudden, unexpected endings.

The 19-year-old had his first two seasons with the team cut short by injury. He broke his collarbone at two separate occasions, almost exactly a year apart, during practices.

“It’s just a massive setback,” said Melvin-McNutt. “It’s messing up my career because all the contests I should have done this year and last year, I should have done well in. I should have gotten further ahead in my career and it’s mentally hard to deal with. But it’s part of the whole snowboarding-athlete experience.”

His seasons had abrupt endings, but not before some strong results.

Melvin-McNutt, who is the first Yukoner to land a spot on the team, took first in consecutive B.C. Snowboard Provincial Series Slopestyle competitions at Sun Peak in January. His two open division wins were his third and fourth in the season having won Sandor’s Icebreaker Rail Jam in Whitehorse and the King of the Rails competition in Whistler.

“He was probably at the top of his game,” said Higgins. “He was set up to have a really strong competitive season but unfortunately he did fall. He’s back on his board now taking advantage of the good late-season conditions here. He’s back at it getting ready for next season already.”

In Melvin-McNutt’s first-ever competition with the team, he finished second out of 68 athletes – first for the men 15-18 age category – at a provincial slopestyle series event in January of 2012.

Before joining Team B.C., Melvin-McNutt represented the Yukon at two major Games. He was awarded the overall silver in the juvenile boys division at the 2010 Arctic Winter Games, also winning gold in the half-pipe. The next year he placed eighth in the halfpipe at the Canada Winter Games.

Next season, “we’re making a push to qualify some people for the Canada (Winter) Games, identify who’ll be going, as well as trying to get Max to qualify for the junior worlds,” said Higgins. “The focus on Max for next season is earning a junior worlds spot and possibly moving to the Canadian national development team. That’s what we’re working on for Max next year.”

“That’s what I’m going for,” responded Melvin-McNutt. “I just hope I don’t get injured again.”

Contact Tom Patrick at tomp@yukon-news.com