The Air Nation tour made its second stop on The Senders home turf, Mount St Louis Moonstone. This time the three-day stop, taking place February 8th-10th featured one slopestyle event and two halfpipe events.
Practice began on Thursday, February 8th where athletes from all across Canada and the U.S. came to see what all the hype of Mount St Louis was about. Practice went off, with 10s being spun in every which direction, multiple inverts and even some doubles. By the end of day one, it was easy to see that this was going to be a heavy event.
On Friday, the halfpipe practice continued with team rider Kiran Pershad and Coach Devon Jack putting in work in the pipe, lacing together what could be a top scoring run for Kiran. Meanwhile, on the slopestyle course, the competitors were getting their final practice laps in before the big event.
Qualifiers started with a bang, seeing lots of big tricks and cleanly landed runs. Up there with some of the best were team riders Cameron Splading and Liam Brearley putting together clean runs top to bottom and earning themselves a spot in finals. Close behind was Sam Koven, with a full pull and Joseph Jedrej putting it all together finishing one spot behind Sam. Coltan Eckert put it all on the line going for a double wildcat on the middle jump and unfortunately coming up a bit short. As the snow began to come down speed was dropping off quickly making it tough for the remaining riders. Carter Wega and Patrice Poulin did everything they could to generate speed but it was not quite enough to get them through to finals.
On the ladies side of things, team rider Madison Gale was charging the jumps all day, putting down a clean run consisting of a fs 360 on the top jump, some tweaked grabs and tailslide 270 on the last goalpost rail. After a great run, Madison was sitting on the bubble in 6th spot. It was top qualifier Jasmaine Baird who was last to drop and put down a full run squeaking her way into finals and bumping Madison out. Madi was still thrilled to land her run and have an overall finish of 7th place. Her weekend competing in slopestytle was finished, but she still had two halfpipe events ahead of her to look forward to.
By the time finals rolled around, the snow was coming down in full force making visibility and speed very difficult. After a vote among the athletes ruled to continue the competition with all three jumps remaining in play, the contest continued on into finals. The conditions in finals favoured the bigger, heavier riders, as the speed was so tight, only some athletes were successfully clearing all the jumps. Unfortunately, that was not to the advantage of 12 year old Cameron Spalding and 14-year-old Liam Brearley. None the less, Cameron and Liam made the most of the course, spinning and hand dragging off of the knuckles of jumps they could not clear and managing to put together a full run, although unconventional. At the end of the day, everyone had fun and made the best of it, making it a fun competition.
The next morning, the Halfpipe qualifiers were under way. Team rider Kiran Pershad looked great in practice but could not quite hold on to his runs in qualifiers. Former team rider Becca Ballantyne put her run together, landing her the 3rd spot in the women’s division. Another team rider to look out for on the ladies side of things was Madison Gale, dropping into the pipe for a 3rd place finish in the FIS event that immediately followed the Air Nation.
Overall, it was a great turn out for team riders in both the slopestyle and halfpipe events. It is always good to host a world class event on home soil and for our athletes it offered a great experience to see what the level of riding is like across North America on such familiar landscape. Everyone had fun competing and are now looking forward to the next stop of the Air Nation Tour – Mont Tremblant.