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Olympic Snowboard

Canada’s Olympic Snowboard Team

Snowboarding is a relatively new Olympic sport, having made its debut at the 1998 Winter Olympics. From the very start, Canada’s athletes made their names, and snowboards, well-known.

Ross Rebagliati is perhaps Canada’s most famous snowboard medallist, capturing the nation’s first snowboarding medal at the 1998 Nagano Winter Games. Rebagliati won the giant slalom event and became the first to ever win Olympic snowboard event.

Maëlle Ricker became the first woman to ever win a gold back home in Canada, coming first in women’s snowboard cross at the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympics.

In total, Canada has won five Olympic snowboard medals in three Winter Games. This result could be in danger as Canada’s 2014 Sochi team is expected to win up to five medals and rule on their snowboards.

There is a young snowboarding team that will carry Canada’s golden dreams to Russia, including top medal contenders and slopestylers Mark McMorris, Spencer O’Brien and Sèbastien Toutant.

Take a look at where Canada’s Sochi 2014 Snowboard athletes call home

Learn more about Olympic Snowboarding

Olympic Snowboarding Rulebook

The Olympic programme features ten snowboarding events: men’s and women’s halfpipe, men’s and women’s parallel slalom, men’s and women’s parallel giant slalom, men’s and women’s snowboard cross, and men’s and women’s slopestyle.

Sochi 2014 Snowboard Team for Canada

Canada’s Olympic snowboarding team for 2014 includes:

Snowboardcross -- Dominique Maltais (Petite-Rivière-St-François, QC) and Maëlle Ricker, West Vancouver, BC) on the women’s side and Chris Robanske (Calgary, AB); Rob Fagan (Cranbrook, BC) and Kevin Hill (Vernon, BC) and Jake Holden (Caledon, ON) for the men.

Slopestyle -- Mark McMorris (Regina, SK); Sebastien Toutant and Maxence Parrot (Bromont, QC); for the men and Spencer O’Brien (Courtenay, BC) and Jenna Blasman (Kitchener, ON) for the women.

Halfpipe -- Alexandra Duckworth (Kingsburg, NS); Mercedes Nicoll (Whistler, BC and Katie Tsuyuki (Toronto, ON) on the women’s side. Crispin Lipscomb (Whistler, BC); Brad Martin (Ancaster, ON); Derek Livingston (Aurora, ON) and Charles Reid (Mont-Tremblant, QC) will represent the men’s squad.

Alpine -- Caroline Calvé (Aylmer, QC); Ariane Lavigne (Lac Supérieur, QC) and Marianne Leeson (Burlington, ON) on the women’s side. Jasey-Jay Anderson (Mont-Tremblant, QC); Michael Lambert (Toronto, ON) and Matt Morison (Burketon, ON) will compete for the men.

A brief history of Snowboarding

Americans have been at the forefront of snowboard’s evolution since Vern Wicklund’s first attempt at a snowboard-like sled in 1939. In 1965, Sherman Poppen created the “Snurfer”, a snow surfer, made of two skis bound together and a rope attached to help maintain balance.

Surfing’s influence on the sport would continue later in the decade when the prototype for the modern snowboard was created using the model of a short surfboard.

During the 1970s, two Americans, Jake Burton Carpenter and Tom Sims, each began to independently produce snowboards. Carpenter, an east coaster, had ridden the Snurfer in the mid-1960s while Sims, a west coaster, was inspired by surfing and skateboarding.

The 1980s would bring about the first organized snowboard competitions.

Snowboarding Debuts as an Olympic Sport

Although a separate snowboard federation was established in 1994, the International Ski Federation brought snowboard under its jurisdiction with encouragement from the IOC. This led to snowboarding being approved as an Olympic sport.

Snowboarding made its Olympic debut at Nagano in 1998, and featured two events: giant slalom and halfpipe.

At the next Winter Olympics, in Salt Lake City 2002, parallel giant slalom replaced giant slalom as the alpine event.

The next addition to the Olympic snowboarding family was snowboard cross, which was introduced as an event during the 2006 Winter Games in Turin.

On July 4, 2011, the IOC announced that slopestyle (snowboard and ski) was one of the 12 Olympic sports to make its debut at the Sochi 2014 Winter Games.

Canada Makes Snowboarding History

Ross Rebagliati took the first snowboard gold for team Canada in Nagano 1998, winning the giant slalom event.

Quebec’s Dominique Maltais won Canada’s second Olympic snowboard medal at the 2006 Winter Olympic in Turin, where snowboard cross was introduced as an Olympic event.

Canada’s Johnny Lyall set the tone for his fellow snowboarders when he jumped through the Olympic rings, grabbing his snowboard, during the Vancouver 2010 Olympic ceremony.

The athletes weren’t late to respond and captured three medals for Canada: Jasey-Jay Anderson took gold in parallel giant slalom, Maëlle Ricker won gold in women’s snowboard cross and Mike Robertson silver in men’s snowboard cross.

Canada is set to put that record to shame at this year’s Olympics, especially with slopestyle becoming a new event, and land five snowboards on the podium.


Halfpipe - Men and Women

Halfpipe competitions at the Olympic Games take place in a sloped half-cylinder of snow that is at least 170m long and 19m wide with 6.7m high walls. One rider at a time performs a routine of acrobatic flips, spins and airs, moving back and forth from one wall to the other. Riders are judged on the variety, difficulty, style and execution of their maneuvers, including the amplitude they achieve above the walls, the cleanliness of their landings and the form in the air. During each phase of competition, each rider performs two routines but only the highest-scoring one counts towards the results.

Parallel Slalom and Parallel Giant Slalom - Men and Women

Both events feature two riders racing head-to-head through a series of gates down two parallel courses labeled red and blue. Parallel giant slalom is contested on a longer course with a larger vertical drop and a greater horizontal distance between gates than parallel slalom. In the qualification round, each rider does a run on each of the red and blue courses. The two times are added together and the 16 fastest riders advance to the elimination finals. During each head-to-head matchup, both riders get a chance to race each of the red and blue courses. The loser of the first run starts the second run with a time delay equal to the time deficit from the first run, therefore the rider that wins the second run advances to the next phase. Eliminations continue until two riders are left to race in the Big Final for gold and silver while the two riders they defeated in the semi-finals race in the Small Final for bronze.

Slopestyle - Men and Women

In slopestyle, riders go down a course comprised of various obstacles such as hips, jumps, rails, and boxes. Judges evaluate the runs for their overall composition, including the sequence, difficulty, style and execution of the tricks, the amount of risk in the routine (including the amplitude achieved) and how the rider uses the course. During each phase of competition, each rider does two runs but only the highest-scoring one counts towards the results.

Snowboard Cross - Men and Women

In snowboard cross, riders race in packs over a course featuring a variety of terrain including jumps, burms, rollers and other obstacles. The competition begins with a qualification round in which riders race individually against the clock. All riders get two runs with only the fastest one being used to determine the top 48 men and top 24 women who advance to the elimination finals. During the finals, riders race in heats of six with the top three in each heat advancing to the next phase until six riders remain to race in the Big Final for the medals.

Canadian Medallists







GoldRoss RebagliatiNagano 1998Men's Giant Slalom -
GoldMaëlle RickerVancouver 2010Ladies' Snowboard Cross -
GoldJasey-Jay AndersonVancouver 2010Men's Parallel Giant Slalom -
SilverMike RobertsonVancouver 2010Men's Snowboard Cross -
BronzeDominique MaltaisTurin 2006Ladies' Snowboard Cross -
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