Yukon boarders reach finals at Speed Nationals

Snowboard Yukon closed out what is easily considered its greatest, most productive season with the Speed Nationals, Canada's snowboardcross championships, last week at Nakiska, Alta. In what was the first time Yukoners competed at the event.

Snowboard Yukon closed out what is easily considered its greatest, most productive season with the Speed Nationals, Canada’s snowboardcross championships, last week at Nakiska, Alta.

In what was the first time Yukoners competed at the event, Whitehorse’s Alidas Jamnicky and Alexander Chisholme both finished in the middle of the field and reached finals against Canada’s top snowboardcross athletes.

Competing in the junior male division, Jamnicky qualified in 13th en route to taking 15th overall. He also placed 34th in the open male division.

“For my first time, I think I did pretty good,” said the 15-year-old. “It was super fun and I hope I do better in the future.”

Chisholme, 20, who was in the open male division, placed 23rd.

“It felt great. It was really fun to be part of a higher level event for the first time,” said Chisholme. “It was nice to see what the scene is all about. It was great to see the best in Canada and how they snowboarded and what they thought of the course.

“It felt good to qualify 23rd because I was still on just a normal snowboard and not a high-end race board that most of the guys who were racing used. It felt good to be able to compete on a normal board.”

Unfortunately the second day of open division races were cancelled due to icy, dangerous conditions, making both Yukon riders’ open placements unofficial. The results for the open are from after the qualifying rounds.

“We’re extremely proud of them,” said Snowboard Yukon head coach Mary Binsted. “Having not competed at the national before … we really didn’t know how the Yukoners would stack up against the rest of the country. And in both circumstances we came out in the top half, so it tells us we’re really going in the right direction.

“So it was really exciting to see, on the junior day, that Alidas did qualify, and on the open category day – if they had gone into the next round – Alexander would have also qualified to race four at a time.”

Both boarders were in their first year of competitive snowboardcross this past winter. It was nonetheless a good one.

At the Arctic Winter Games last month in Whitehorse, though young enough for the juvenile division, Jamnicky competed as a junior and captured a bronze in snowboardcross.

He also won the open male division at the Yukon Championships in boardercross a couple weeks ago.

“I’ve never really liked freestyle,” said Jamnicky. “Once I started the E-Team (Yukon Elite Team) three years ago, it was always part (freestyle), but I like the racing better – it’s more fun.”

Before sustaining a head injury that took him out of competition for a couple months, Chisholme won a bronze medal in snowboardcross at the Western SNX Series in the Lake Louise at the end of January.

“I had a bad head injury this year so that kind of interrupted the season,” said Chisholme. “This season was to just test out the scene and see if this is something I really want to do. And yeah, I’m looking for a race board next year and am looking to do a lot more racing next year for sure.

“I’m super excited for next year and I hope I can represent the Yukon again.”

Chisholme won bronze medals in snowboardcross at the 2008 and 2010 Arctic Games and finished 17th at the 2011 Canada Winter Games. At the 2010 Arctic Games, he won the overall gold medal in the junior male category.

“Nothing compares in excitement, racing down a course at high-speed with three guys around you,” said Chisholme of boardercross. “It gets really intense.”

“We definitely surpassed our goals when we went out,” said Binsted. “Our goal was just to get out there, race and see where we were in the country. We were hoping they would qualify (past the heats) to race four at a time because a lot of kids follow the circuit for years and never make it to that point.

“They are in the running to be right up there at the top with the best in the country in years to come.”

Snowboard Yukon had plenty to be excited about this season.

Whitehorse’s Adam Waddington became the first Yukoner ever to compete at the Freestyle Snowboarding Nationals last month at Canada Olympic Park in Calgary. Waddington placed 32nd out of over 70 boarders in slopestyle and 22nd in halfpipe. He also won gold in the halfpipe and bronze in slopestyle at the Arctic Games in juvenile male and later became the Yukon champion in slopestyle.

This season also saw Max Melvin-McNutt become the first ever Yukoner to make the B.C. Freestyle Team. In his first competition with the team at Big White in B.C., Melvin-McNutt finished second out of 68 athletes and first for his age category. In his second outing, at a BCSA Provincial Slopestyle competition in Sun Peaks, B.C., Melvin-McNutt came fourth overall (second in his age group) and then fifth overall (fourth for his age) at the two-day event.

Yukon snowboarders captured a total of 13 medals at the Arctic Winter Games, which is a Games record.

There was also a record turnout at last month’s Yukon Snowboard Championships.

“I think it’s more than fair to say it was the best season yet,” said Binsted. “I’d also say we’re not done.

“We’re doing lots of grant applications, planning for next season, so our meetings continue to happen.”

Included in next season’s plans are return trips to both national championships and increased travel to snowboardcross competitions.

“We have a strong interest in that now,” said Binsted. “Before it was mostly freestyle.

“We’ll be going to freestyle competitions, race competitions, and definitely back to nationals. I’d like to take a larger team next year.”

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