COC photo: Mike Ridewood

Shining in Sochi

Ariane Lavigne had a career day in a city where she hopes to shine one year from now. The native Lac-Supérieur, QC rode all the way to her first career podium finish in Snowboard when she dominated both her runs in the parallel giant slalom event to defeat Valeriya Tsoy of Kazakhstan for a bronze medal at a World Cup in Sochi, Russia held at the “Rosa Khutor” Extreme Park.

“I’ve never had a top-6,” said the 28-year-old Lavigne. “To get to the semifinal I was already super-happy and then it got better. I can’t believe it, it’s such a great day for me. I’ve been riding well and always knew I could make it but today to do it is amazing. It’s such a relief.”

The breakthrough came at the most opportune time during an Olympic Test Event and a satisfying result after Lavigne had a disappointing World Championship outing last month in Quebec City.

COC Photo: Michael Tremblay

Ariane Lavigne reached her first Snowboard world cup podium in Sochi. COC Photo: Michael Tremblay

“It’s the best place to do that (podium),” said Lavigne. “I was pretty disappointed after the world championships in my province, in my country. I didn’t qualify but today it’s all right, it’s all good.”

Busy times in Sochi for Olympians

Sochi will also be hosting many Olympic Test Events this weekend at the “Rosa Khutor” Extreme Park including Freestyle Skiing disciplines the moguls (Feb. 15), halfpipe (Feb. 16) aerials (Feb. 17) and ski cross (Feb. 18-19).

2010 Olympic champion and Rosemere, QC native Alex Bilodeau is coming off his first gold medal victory on the World Cup tour in moguls and will be challenged my points leader Mikael Kingsbury (Deux-Montagnes, QC). On the women’s side, expect Montreal’s Justine Dufour-Lapointe to excel as the yellow bib leader on tour.

The halfpipe will be hotly contested by Canadians with 2012 X Games winner Rosalind Groenewoud representing the women and recent World Cup gold medallist Mike Riddle (Spruce Grove, AB) taking the lead for the men.

COC Photo: Mike Ridewood

The leading points earner on tour, Mikael Kingsbury hopes to excel in Sochi. COC Photo: Mike Ridewood

Canada’s reigning Crystal Globe winner in aerials, Olivier Rochon, will be hoping to bounce back from an up and down season that started with an opening World Cup event bronze medal, but has left him shoutout since. Travis Gerrits (Milton, ON) has two silver medal finishes this season and is likely to shine again.

The ski cross team made a huge announcement this past week with reigning world champion Chris Del Bosco is set to make his return from injury. The Montreal native has been one of the most dominant racers on the ski cross World Cup circuit over the past five years but missed the start of the 2012-13 season after suffering a separated shoulder in training. The women will be well represented with consistent contenders Kelsey Serwa, Kelowna, BC, and Crystal Globe winner Marielle Thompson (Whistler, BC).

Bobsleigh and Skeleton Ready

The No. 1 pilot in the world Kaillie Humphries (Calgary, AB) and brakeman Chelsea Valois (Zenon Park, SK) are fresh off a World Championship title and will challenge for gold once more in Sochi on the “Sanki” Sliding Centre on Feb. 15. Joining them that day will be the men’s Skeleton competion where 2010 Olympic gold medallist Jon Montgomery will compete.

On Feb. 16, the two men Bobsleigh event takes places with number one pilot Lyndon Rush (Humboldt, SK) leading the way for Canada. Women’s Skeleton takes centre stage on the same day with recent World Championship silver medallist Sarah Reid (Calgary, AB) and 2006 Olympic bronze medallist Mellisa Hollingsworth (Eckville, AB) looking for podium finishes. Bobsleigh concludes with the four man event on Sunday.