Olympic boarder plays mind games

By IAN BUSBY, QMI Agency

Sometimes, the trickster needs to play tricks on his mind.

Snowboarder Jeff Batchelor is two weeks away from the Winter Olympics, but if he wants to reach his goal and win gold, he will have to treat it as a normal event.

After crashing out of qualifying for a World Cup halfpipe event at Canada Olympic Park Friday afternoon, the 21-year-old will have to recover mentally before he hits Vancouver.

His life is about physical acrobatics, but Batchelor needs to become a master of mental gymnastics.

"When I ride for the fun of it, ride for me and not the entire country, that's when I do better," he said following a couple of hours to digest his slip-ups.

"When I start thinking I might let some people down, that's when I start riding poorly.

"For me, I have to think about the fact this is for me. All those supporters want me to do it for them but when it comes down to it, this is my goal and my dream and I'm doing it for myself.

"I'm just trying to keep a level head and think the Olympics is just another contest."

The halfpipe finals (7 p.m.) go on without Batchelor Saturday at COP, with the slopestyle finals (2 p.m.) to kick off the day on the hill.

Olympic-bound Justin Lamoureaux of Squamish, B.C., had the best run in qualifying Friday and gets a bye through the semi-finals Saturday.

Fellow Canadians Derek Livingston of Aurora, Ont., and Brendan Davis of Barrie, Ont., also made the semifinals.

In the women's event, Olympic-bound riders Mercedes Nicoll of Whistler and Sarah Conrad of Halifax qualified for the semifinals.

Batchelor's miss is not great timing. The Oakville, Ont., rider is coming off a silver medal at a World Cup event in Stoneham, Que.

At least he knows the podium is where he belongs, but he said the trick was taking a mental break during the Christmas season and coming back refreshed.

"The biggest contest of my life is coming up and I really need to be on my game," Batchelor said.

"This whole week I've been stressed. I was thinking about the Olympics a bit too much and the things I need to do to win the Olympics.

"I just need to do my thing and hope for the best."

IAN.BUSBY@SUNMEDIA.CA

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