Robby Balharry is a man of the road.
During the snowboarding season, the 21-year-old Canmore native rarely gets to spend more than a day or two at a time in the comfy confines of the mountain town.
So with a large throng of friends and family hoping to help propel him back to the podium at the Burton Canadian Open slopestyle final Saturday at COP, Balharry was as comfortable as he’s been since his third-place finish at the event in 2010.
“It’s definitely nice when you’re travelling all year — it gets a little tough,” Balharry said of the homecoming.
While another podium finish wasn’t in the cards — thanks to an American sweep — Balharry’s 76.73 score and fifth-place finish was the top Canadian result on the day.
“In past years, I’ve done pretty well at this event — podium two years ago — so I was hoping to do that again,” Balharry said. “My first run was alright but definitely not what I wanted. And then my second two runs, I just got caught up in that soft landing — went a little too big and exploded a little bit.”
The soft landings were a theme of the day, as maintenance crews hustled to keep up with the balmy weather on the Calgary hill.
“When I fell on the second jump … there’s no way you can come back from that,” Balharry said.
Chas Guldemond’s score of 89.60 led the way for the dominant American contingent, as riders from south of the border swept the men’s podium, and American Jamie Anderson topped the women’s podium.
Among men, Justin Morgan finished second with an 87.30 score, while Brandon Reis finished third with an 81.03 mark.
Fifteen-year-old Darcy Sharpe of Comox, B.C., finished 11th, while Craig McMorris, 20, of Regina, finished 13th in the 16-rider field.
Calgary hasn’t been kind to Guldemond in the past, but the California rider wasn’t deterred.
“I full on got redemption here in Calgary,” Guldemond said. “I was psyched to put down a run and come away with a win.
“The last events here haven’t gone so well for me, but I knew coming back could be a good thing for me. Lose the past and come into the present.”
Anderson blew away the women’s field, scoring over 80 on all three of her runs, including an 88.68 in her second run of the day. Switzerland’s Sina Candrian finished second with a 73.93, while New Zealand rider Stefi Luxton finished third after a 73.50 run.
“I landed all my fives, and I knew that’s what I wanted to do,” Anderson said. “I just kind of went for it.”
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