Stakes will be high this coming week for Canadian snowboarders when world titles and spots on Canada’s Olympic team will be up for grabs as the world’s best snowboarders land in Quebec for the 10th edition of the FIS Snowboard World Championships. Canada will field a team of Olympic medallists, world champions and X Games winners against a deep international field.
The nine day event, hosted at the Stoneham Mountain Resort from Jan. 18 to 27, will feature more than 400 athletes from 35 competing nations. Canadian national team members will battle their international rivals in big air, halfpipe, parallel giant slalom, snowboard cross and the two newest additions to the Olympic program: Snowboard slopestyle and parallel slalom.
Slopestyle – Jan.17-18
Slopestyle will be making its Olympic debut in Sochi 2014 and Canada will have several highly touted athletes to watch. On the men’s side competing for the podium will be Mark McMorris (Regina, SK). McMorris finished second to teammate Sebastien Toutant at the 2011 Winter X Games before coming back in 2012 and winning the title himself. On the women’s side, Spencer O’Brien (Courtenay, BC) will be attempting a repeat of last year when she won the 2012 World Championship in Oslo, Norway.
Big Air – Jan. 19
Men from slopestyle will compete in Big Air during an event in which snowboarders launch themselves off massive jumps and perform tricks. Each athlete is judged based on height, distance, trick difficulty and landing. Look for McMorris to try and make his mark in this event as well.
Halfpipe – Jan. 20
Halfpipe, a competition made famous by the likes of double gold medallist Shaun White, will be a competition in which Canadians look to make their mark. Mercedes Nicoll (Whistler, BC) finished in the top-10 in 2012 and the reigning Canadian champion has what it takes to surprise the group. This event takes place in a bowl-shaped course dug deep into a hill where snowboarders pick up speed and perform acrobatic aerial tricks. Points are scored based on trick difficulty and form. Canada will be looking to qualify two athletes in both the men’s and women’s competition in Sochi.
Snowboard Cross – Jan. 24 and Jan. 26
Snowboard cross is an Olympic event that Canadians have had success with at the last few Games. Maëlle Ricker (Squamish, BC), the defending Olympic champion, and Dominique Maltais (Petite-Rivières-St-Francois, QC), 2006 Olympic bronze medallist, will be aiming for medals in a competition in which athletes race three other competitors down a challenging course that includes bumps and jumps. In 2011-12, Maltais and Ricker finished 1-2 in the World Cup standings. Vernon, BC native Kevin Hill and Chris Robanske (North Vancouver, BC) are two up-and-comers on the men’s team who have had success on the World Cup tour and will be looking to make some noise.
Parallel Giant Slalom – Jan. 25 and Parallel Slalom – Jan. 27
2010 Olympic Champion Jasey-Jay Anderson (Lac Supérieur, QC) will be featured on these days and will be banking on a good result to make his fifth Olympic Games appearance in 2014 in an event that pits two riders in head-to-head competition with the victor eliminating their challenger. Look for Burketon, ON’s Matthew Morison, a 2009 parallel giant slalom bronze medallist, to attempt to find some of the magic from earlier in his career as well. A World Cup silver medallist in December of 2012, Caroline Calvé (Aylmer, QC) will represent the women and looking to make her first big splash in world competition.