With slopestyle snowboarding now an Olympic event and the sport becoming mainstream, it’s getting tougher and tougher to place high at national events.
Two Yukon boarders took on Canada’s best and failed to break into the finals at Canada Snowboard’s Freestyle Nationals last week in Whistler, B.C.
“I thought it went very well,” said Yukon head coach Mary Binsted. “The incredible thing about this sport is that it’s progressing really quickly and it’s really impressive how the athletes are progressing from year to year. The courses are getting bigger and more challenging exponentially year from year, and I think that reflects the progression of the sport.
“It may have something to do with the fact that slopestyle is an Olympic event. There are a lot more kids across the country competing.”
Yukon’s Tim Schirmer almost advanced past qualifying in the junior competition over the weekend. The 16-year-old placed eighth in qualifying, missing the final by two spots, and finished 15th overall.
“That was something else,” said Schirmer. “I feel I did pretty good. I could have done a bit better, but with the conditions, and the course spacing was a bit odd. But I guess I had to deal with it.”
“We’re really proud of that,” said Binsted. “This is Tim’s first nationals and he has two more years that he will qualify for juniors. So to almost make the finals on his first appearance, and still have two more kicks at the can, is pretty impressive.”
Schirmer and Yukon teammate Adam Waddington also rode in the open men’s competition on March 25. Schirmer placed 18th in the qualifier and placed 33rd overall and Waddington 21st and finished 43rd out of 68 boarders.
“There were a lot of good riders out there, but the weather wasn’t that great for open nationals. We had a bunch of fog, rain/snow and everything was really slushy,” said Schirmer. “So it was pretty hard for the tricks and to get the right amount of speed, so it was a hit-or-miss situation.”
Yukon had no boarders at last year’s nationals because it overlapped with the Arctic Winter Games, at which Schirmer won a silver and two bronze and Waddington three silver.
Both also represented Yukon at the Canada Winter Games in February. Schirmer placed 11th – one spot from the final – in the slopestyle event at the Games.
While it was Schirmer’s first freestyle nationals, it was Waddington’s third. He was the first Yukon boarder to compete at the championships in 2012 and placed 20th in junior men in 2013.
“It is really great to have those guys there because they started out in (Snowboard Yukon’s) Sandor’s Shredders at the introductory level and worked their way through the teams, and they’ve both been to Arctic Games and had fantastic results,” said Binsted. “Taking a bite at nationals is the next step in their competitive career. It’s pretty neat to see them progress year after year.”
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