SLAM!Sports
February 6, 2006
Cross Jasey 'n' lose
Anderson the favourite in exciting new event
By ERIC FRANCIS -- Calgary Sun


Canada's Jasey-Jay Anderson will be one of the favourites in a new Olympic event in Turin, the snowboard cross, which can be as nasty as roller-derby or pro wrestling. (Calgary Sun File Photo)

Jasey-Jay Anderson might not say it but his father will: The newest snowboard discipline to hit the Olympics -- snowboard cross -- can be as dirty as pro wrestling.

Throw groups of four racers down a narrow course full of turns, banks and jumps and there's sure to be a certain amount of jostling going on as they fight to cross the finish line first.

Now dangle an Olympic gold medal in front of them for the first time and watch the carnage.

"Every third or fourth boarder cross race Jasey is quitting because of something that happens that's unfair," chuckled his father, Jay, from his Mont Tremblant, Que., home where his son is making final preparations for his third Winter Games.

"There's not supposed to be any sort of contact and, from time to time, there is. His last race in Europe he was livid because someone behind him pushed him while he was in the air. It isn't the fastest on the day to win the race, it's the man who can use the best tactics or sneak in a push."

There'll be no quitting for Anderson next week when the world's second-ranked snowboard cross competitor hurdles down the hill in Bardonecchia in an effort to avenge a disappointing Olympic debut in Salt Lake City where equipment problems landed the favourite a 29th-place finish in the parallel giant slalom final. (He finished 16th in Nagano).

"Jasey-Jay is one of the most talented riders we have, doing two disciplines well (snowboard cross and parallel giant slalom) and we'll look for him to be on the podium in either," said Martin Jensen, director of Canada's high performance snowboard program.

"I think snowboard cross will be a real eye-opener for a lot of people, adding another element of snowboarding. It's definitely more reflective of what's going on in our sport today. It's dynamic, exciting. You're bound to see a lot of tactics, strategies and a lot of crashes as they go for the medal."

All of which means that although Anderson enters the Turin Games a snowboard cross favourite, he could just as easily be nudged -- quite literally -- out of the running. Think of stock-car racing or roller derby on hard-packed snow.

Thickening the plot is the fact one of the biggest threats he'll face in the discipline is teammate Drew Neilson.

"It's important to note every member of our team in snowboard cross has been on the World Cup podium the last couple years," said Jensen.

Anderson also represents Canada's best chance in parallel giant slalom, in which he is a two-time and defending world champion.

MEDAL CHANCES

Canada should be competitive in all the snowboard events.

PREDICTION: Two medals

FAVOURITE IN THE SPORT

XAVIER DELERUE, FRANCE

In the midst of winning the last three World Cup snowboard cross titles, the 26-year-old Frenchman also won gold at the 2003 world championships. He has hit the podium in four of his six World Cup outings this season and never finished worse than eighth all of last year.


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