Yukon snowboarders launch onto podium

By landing some big tricks, the Yukon's snowboard team landed some big results in the slopestyle event in the Arctic Winter Games on Monday at Mt. Sima.

By landing some big tricks, the Yukon’s snowboard team landed some big results in the slopestyle event in the Arctic Winter Games on Monday at Mt. Sima.

The young team launched and grinded its way to four medals – the most the team has ever won in a single event at the Arctic Games.

“We’re definitely off to a great start,” said Yukon coach Katrina Couch. “(Yukon coach Gabriel Rivest) and I are super proud. It’s the first time in any Games that we’ve hauled away that many medals in a podium day.”

Among the medals was a gold by team veteran Lara Bellon in the junior female division. Producing a higher score with each of her three runs, Bellon took the top spot with a large straight air off the large jump, followed by a huge method grab off the second hit.

“This wowed the judges with her speed and amplitude,” said Couch. Bellon then ended her run with a 50/50 boardslide on the blue-box and a large shifty on the final jump.

“A lot of the girls weren’t hitting the large jump – she hit the large jump – and hit a huge method off the second jump, hit all the rails and was stomping her 360s and 180s today,” said Couch. “The big thing is she went high and went fast.”

The Yukon’s two juvenile male boarders both reached the podium. Tim Schirmer won silver and teammate Adam Waddington took the bronze.

Schirmer, a.k.a. Timmy Two Turns, lived up to his nickname with a 720 on the big jump, landed a steezy nose grab on the second jump, rocked the rainbow rail and landed a backside 540 for the silver.

“When he got to the top of the hill he was like, ‘I’ve never had such a clean run in my life,’” said Couch. “He did exceptionally today. All our athletes did really, really well.”

Waddington nailed a backside 900, a “large and in charge” Japan Air grab, a frontside boardslide over the rainbow rail and completed his run with a frontside 360.

“He had super clean runs,” said Couch. “He was a little nervous at first but he pulled through.”

Haylie Grant captured the Yukon’s fourth medal, a silver in the juvenile female category. Though a small field of three, which went down to two after an injury, Grant threw down some new moves into her repertoire, including a 50/50 on the blue-box that she had only learned earlier in the day. She also pulled off an indie grab of the small jump and a large straight air on the second jump.

“We originally weren’t planning on putting her in the slopestyle, but there were only three juvenile girls who entered,” said Couch.

“She was learning new tricks at the last minute and fully completed the blue-box, which was big for her. She stepped it up, did some of the bigger jumps and did her personal best today.”

The Yukon’s two junior males, who are young enough to compete in juvenile, finished mid-pack in the slopestyle. Francis Bouffard snagged fifth and Alidas Jamnicky sixth.

“Even though they are in a higher category and have tougher competition, Francis pulled away with a fifth place today,” said Couch. “He went huge and was trying new tricks, like he was pulling off back-flips today. He had ginormous air – I can’t even tell you how high this kid can go.”

With the exception of Bellon, every member of the team is within the juvenile age range. Bellon is also the only team member with previous major Games experience, having represented the Yukon at the Canada Winter Games last year in Halifax.

With the four medals, the Yukon snowboard team is already showing it is the one to watch in the medal count. At the 2010 Arctic Games in Grande Prairie, Alta., the snowboard team won 10 of the Yukon’s 101 medals, including a pair of prestigious overall winner medals.

Snowboarders switched to racing on Tuesday in the giant slalom and entered the halfpipe Wednesday morning. The competition wraps up with snowboardcross racing on Thursday at Mt. Sima.

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