Snowboarders just 'chilling out'

SCOTT FISHER

, Last Updated: 12:27 PM ET

Snowboarders are well-known for their laid-back attitudes.

They're cool, dude. And nothing you say is going to stress them out.

National team boarders Mercedes Nicoll and Dominique Vallee are no exception.

They both left other sports behind when the competitive juices overflowed and degenerated into infighting and backstabbing.

"I was a figure skater from when I was three until 15, when I started snowboarding," Nicoll said. "Figure skating was getting too competitive with my friends. I wasn't too into the competitiveness and rivalry.

"Snowboarding was way more mellow ... and now I'm competing all the time. But it's more mellow. We're all friends at the top of the halfpipe.

"It's a different vibe completely."

Fellow halfpipe shredder Vallee was also happy to find a sport where friendships are valued as much as medals.

"I gave up ski racing because it was too competitive," she said. "I used to do a lot of border cross. At the 2006 Olympics, I did both halfpipe and border cross.

"That was my last border cross because it felt like ski racing. It was really competitive and everybody was aggressive.

"For me, that's not snowboarding. In halfpipe, everybody is so friendly, whether you're from Norway or wherever, we're all really good friends.

"That's how it should be. Otherwise, it takes the fun out of it if you're not friends with your competitors. Then you'll have no friends and you'll be alone."

Both riders are competing at this weekend's Burton Canadian Open at Canada Olympic Park. The halfpipe semifinals are slated for 10 a.m. today with the finals going at 2 p.m. The event is free to the public.

"I'd just like to get back on my feet and have a run I'm happy with," said Nicoll, 25, who just returned from an event in South Korea.

Vallee didn't even have time to get to her home in Squamish, B.C.

"I went straight to Montreal to visit my family, so I haven't been able to go change my clothes in Squamish yet," she said.

The 27-year-old is just starting to get rolling this season after taking some time off.

"I haven't been riding that much because my mom's been really sick at home," she said. "So, I've been spending more time with her.

"I just want to do the finals (at COP) and have fun with it. I don't want to put pressure on myself."

It appears Mother Nature will do her part for today's finale.

"It's been amazing," Vallee said. "Everybody's been feeling the chinook.

"I was here in January and it was minus-40. I had trouble tying up my bindings because I was wearing so many clothes.

"This is the weather everybody wants. It's been a perfect week for the first Canadian Open."


Videos

Photos