The Canadian Nationals took place this past week March 5th to 11th at the Canadian Olympic Park in Calgary Alberta. With riders coming from all across Canada and even a few from south of the border it was sure to be a battle for who would become the Canadian Champion.
For many of us, it was our first time at the Canadian Olympic Park. With amazing facilities for multitudes of Sports, COP offers a high performance-training environment for athletes of all disciplines. Snowboarding was no exception with what is one of the best 22’ super pipes in the world, and the only 22’ super pipe to be lit up for night riding in North America as well as a massive central jump line and a smaller yet amazing secondary side line.
Team rider Kiran Pershad was the only Sender to compete in the National halfpipe event, and did a great job at that. Finishing with 2nd place overall in the Junior category, and just barely missing finals in the Open category, Kiran managed to put together a great run and landed himself the award for biggest straight air of the competition.
Following the halfpipe competition, the Open Slopestyle competition was the next order of business, as over 60 athletes competed to be the National Champion on what was nearly a perfect course. Featuring a smooth and flowy rail line with multiple options into three large kickers and a perfect blue bird day, it was sure to be one of the best contests of the year. With no side takeoffs, athletes had to go big or go home and step up to three of the largest jumps some of the riders have ever hit. That didn’t cause any problems for The Senders, as they got right into things getting comfortable on the jumps, and upping the ante on some of their biggest tricks. Team rider Madison Gale charged the jumps and put together an amazing rail line, landing her the fourth qualifying spot and finishing 5th overall! Team rider Liam Brearley backed that up with the highest rail score of the day into a smooth and stylish jump line earning him the second spot overall in the Mens Open division. The rest of the crew had a strong performance with team riders Sam Koven putting down a big frontside 1080, Patrice Poulin with his signature backside double cork 1080, Carter Wega with some big 720’s and Cameron Spalding backing that up. Unfortunately for these guys, it was a stacked heat and wasn’t quite enough to make it through to the top 6. Nonetheless, some amazing runs were landed and everyone upped their level of riding.
In the Big Air event it was Sam Koven who prevailed, stomping a massive frontside 1080 and finding a qualifying spot for finals. In finals, it followed the Olympic format, which is best two of three runs for a combined total score. Sam went down on his first run in finals, putting the pressure on Sam to land his next two runs. Sam kept it cool and put down a massive 1080 following that up with a switch backside 900 for a top 10 finish in the Open Big Air Nationals. An fantastic performance for Sam against a heavy list of finalists who were throwing doubles in every directions and even seeing former team rider William Buffey going for broke on a cab triple underflip.
The following day, the Junior Nationals took place on the West jump line. With a handful more competitors flying in this brought the field to over 70 athletes looking to name their self the Junior National Champion. Nic Laframboise took that title but not without Liam Brearley giving him a serious run for his money and finding himself another second place finish with friend and team rider Cameron Spalding right behind him in third place. Cameron Spalding also claimed the title of National Champion in the 13 & under category, taking home some hardware. Sam Koven wasn’t far off the podium as he stomped a switch backside 900 and a frontside 1080 to secure himself the 5th spot. Carter Wega also had a great performance. After taking a beating on his first run, Carter and coach Andy Stewart did some strategizing to put together a well executed run finding him the 8th spot in his heat. A result any 14 year old would be proud of when competing on the National stage.
At the end of it all, athletes, coaches, officials and family gathered in the Canadian Sports Hall of Fame for a dinner banquet featuring awards, team videos, and some all around good times. The Senders were able to put together heavy edit that got lots of cheers from the crowd thanks to coach Sam Marcotte who hunkered down and spent the afternoon going through team footage and piecing it all together. To top it all off, the team went out for a fun night of games and laser tag, which seems to be becoming a tradition on these trips.
In the end, all of The Senders had a great trip and some even better performances. For some, this was there first Nationals experience, for others this was one of many. For all, this was a great learning experience and a significant stepping-stone in their competitive endeavors.