Olympic shredders find form

Canucks shine at snowboard event

By IAN BUSBY, QMI Agency

Justin Lamoureux's bio on Snowboard Canada's website shows a clean-shaven, youthful 33-year-old.

It's quite the opposite look from the grizzled Olympic hopeful who took a silver medal in the halfpipe event at the Burton Canadian Open Saturday afternoon at Canada Olympic Park.

With racing goggles and a helmet on, nothing is visible on Lamoureux's face except his chilled, red nose.

"It's my playoff beard," said the Squamish, B.C., product, who will be heading to Vancouver this week with eyes on an Olympic medal.

"With a fourth two weeks ago and seconds two weekends in a row, I guess it's working."

Last weekend at COP, Lamoureux took a silver in a World Cup stop. He and a handful of other Canadian Olympians stayed in Calgary this week to train and get an extra competition in before Vancouver.

The time seemed to serve the Canadian women well.

After missing the finals last week in the World Cup, both Sarah Conrad and Mercedes Nicoll hit the podium in the halfpipe Saturday.

Nicoll, who is from Whistler and now heads home to prepare for the Games, took bronze behind New Zealand's Kendall Brown, while Conrad picked up silver.

"I've trained a lot here," Nicoll said. "My amplitude is better, and my spins have gotten better. All around, it's been pretty good training. I'm happy with my runs, so I'm going to keep working on it."

With the opening ceremonies less than a week away, Nicoll isn't feeling the Olympic anxiety just yet.

"It will hit me when I'm actually in the village," said the 26-year-old. "I get nervous when I'm at the top just before my run. I do a little shake and get it all out. It's working."

A week ago, Conrad came straight from the Winter X Games and jumped into the pipe for her qualification run. She missed out on the final by just a few points.

But after spending the week in Calgary working on the same halfpipe, the 24-year-old from Dartmouth, N.S., has seemed to conquer it. She hopes to do the same starting next weekend at the Games.

"This is another step on the road to Vancouver," Conrad said. "Last week wasn't even an event I was supposed to do. I didn't do very well, so it's nice to step up and get on the podium."

Iouri Podladtchikov of Switzerland (nicknamed I-Pod) won the men's event, with Finland's Markus Malin third.

Calgary's Dustin Craven was the only other Canadian to make the men's final and placed 14th of 16 riders.

But the 21-year-old Olympic alternate was all smiles at the bottom of the run. He will go to Vancouver as one of the forerunners and be ready in case of injury.

"Being in the enviroment with the big crowd will be a chance to showcase how good I am at snowboarding," he said.

"I'm still preparing as if I'm going to compete. At the same time, I'm taking it easy. I'm not being as hard on myself, and I don't have that pressure."

IAN.BUSBY@SUNMEDIA.CA

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