Yukon’s freestyle snowboard team suffered some injuries at the Snow Crown championships last week at Canada Olympic Park in Calgary.
They also took in the best-ever results for the Yukon at Snow Crown – the Canadian freestyle snowboard championships.
There was a concussion, a knee injury – and a top-20 and even a top-10 result.
“It’s pretty amazing, we were just thrilled with our results – both on the junior day and in the open,” said Yukon head coach Mary Binsted. “We thought we’d enter the open just to get experience while we are here. The junior event was our focus for our competitive goals. The pro (open) category was just, ‘Let’s go in it and ride with some of these guys who we know their names but have never been on the hill with them.’
“Adam (Waddington) proved he’s not far off. He was right at home up there with them.”
Yukon’s Lara Bellon placed ninth in the junior women slopestyle event on Thursday while Waddington placed 20th in junior men.
Waddington then placed 12th in his open division qualifier on Saturday, just two spots from making the final.
“I was pretty stoked. For the open category I was really tired out, it was really bad conditions and I was pretty stressed,” said Waddington. “But when I was in juniors I was super stoked, I was just feeling everything, my tricks were coming together.”
Waddington qualified eighth in his pool, 14th overall, in Thursday’s junior division.
In the final he hit a cab 540 off the first jump, a 720 off the second jump, and a frontside 360 off the third. He then landed a front lipslide on a rail.
“I was having trouble with the cab 540 and I was doing a back 720 on the second jump that was kind of iffy for me to land, but I got them both pretty well,” said the 16-year-old. “I was doing a hand drag thing on a tire feature that I really wasn’t comfortable with, but it worked out pretty well.”
Bellon, 18, qualified in eighth and placed ninth with methods and indies off the jumps in her runs. A knee injury sustained during practice prevented her from competing in the open division on Saturday.
“The impressive thing is she was hitting all three jumps in that slopestyle line,” said Binsted. “A good portion of the women’s field was skipping (them). Especially the second jump because it was too big for them.”
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.
“I felt a lot better this year, having my team there, so I had a little more confidence going into it,” said Waddington. “I’ve learned a lot from last year about not getting too stressed for competitions like this.”
Yukon’s Esa Suominen suffered a concussion during practice and did not compete. Teammate Robert Faulds was a little banged up for the junior event and sat it out, but he placed 27th in the open division qualifier. None of the Yukon boarders competed in the halfpipe competition.
“These are amazing results for us,” said Binsted. “This is Adam’s second year at nationals and he improved his position by half.
“What’s amazing is how high he qualified. The reason why you see a drop between his qualifying position and where he finished overall was because the large provinces have quotas assigned to them, so they get to nominate their top athletes straight through to the final. They don’t have to go through the qualifying process.
“These are kids how were out at the junior worlds, travelling internationally and having high ranked results. When one of our Yukon athletes start to perform like that, they’ll get a bye straight into the final as well.”
Bellon dominated the 2012 Arctic Games, winning all four available gold medals in the junior female division. She also won the open female division at last year’s Yukon championships in freestyle and snowboard cross.
She placed third and fourth in back-to-back slopestyle competitions at the B.C. Snowboard Provincial Series in North Vancouver last month.
Waddington placed third for males 15-18 and seventh overall at another B.C. Snowboard Provincial Series last month.
He won bronze in a Junior Jam competition at Canada Olympic Park a year ago. He also represented the Yukon at the 2012 Arctic Games and captured gold in the halfpipe and bronze in slopestyle. He then won the halfpipe event at last year’s Yukon Snowboard Championships.
“We’re really excited with how well we did,” added Binsted. “It’s great for the Yukon to be able to go to a national event and be competitors there. We’re thrilled.”
Injury is also taking a toll on one of Yukon’s snowboard cross racers. Because of an unspecified injury, Whitehorse’s Alexander Chisholme will not compete at the Canadian Snowboard Cross Championships later this month, leaving Yukon unrepresented.
Contact Tom Patrick at firstname.lastname@example.org