By Rodrigo Verney, January 25 2022—
Canada’s best battled it out at Calgary’s WinSport Canada Olympic Park Snow Rodeo on the first of three slope events happening before the 2022 Beijing Olympics.
The event saw the names of the best snowboarders and skiers on this side of the world. The four-day tournament began on Dec. 27 without a public presence, due to COVID-19 safety protocols. However, everyone was able to enjoy the experience through television and Livestream coverage.
The tournament had two modalities — a free ski halfpipe and snowboard Slopestyle. As a qualifier for the 2022 Beijing Olympics, the competition between the best was as fierce as it could be. With the Olympics being just two months away, everyone that made it to the rodeo had to bring their A-game — and they did.
The original schedule saw the competitors arriving on Dec. 27 and training and settling in until Dec. 29. After that, Dec. 30 marked the beginning of the Men’s qualification rounds — which unfortunately got postponed due to bad weather. To resolve that issue, the men’s and women’s qualification rounds took place on the same date. The finals were held on the first day of the year. The following couple of days were for mingling and departure.
Canadian snowboarders made use of the home advantage winning a gold medal in the men’s Slopestyle with Sébastien Toutant scoring an impressive 86.86 and a bronze at the women’s Slopestyle with the amazing performance of Laurie Blouin with a 75.73 score — only 1.86 points away from the gold medal. Mark McMorris had an incredible run and finished at fourth just 1.15 points away from clinching the podium.
Blouin had the honour to represent Team Canada as she was the only Canadian among the eight-woman final.
“I’m glad I put it down when it counts,” said the bronze medalist. She comes from an amazing history. This is the snowboarder’s first world cup bronze after she won the gold medal on the same hill in 2020. She is not new to the podium either, being the International Ski Federation (FIS) world champion in 2017. Blouin has a history in the 2018 winter Olympics, winning a silver medal in the Slopestyle.
The only Canadian among the eight women in the final, Blouin had an amazing recovery during the event. In the first race of her circuit, Blouin missed a landing which damaged her overall performance. However, when it appeared that she would be out of the picture, she had an amazing second run and reached 75.73 points.
Her strong mentality and extensive championship experience make her an absolute menace at the course. Blouin’s fantastic personality has been winning over fans as much as her skills have been winning over medals.
The women’s snowboard podium held two other big names besides Blouin. The two Japanese legends Miyabi Onitsuka, at second and Kokomo Murase in first place. Murase isn’t new to this sort of competition. The young prodigy became the first woman to land a double cork 1260 in competition and the youngest medalist in X Games winter event history at 13 years old.
With this track record, every fan is eager to see her raise the bar even higher at this year’s Olympics. With this performance, Murase may be an unstoppable force, regardless it will be a certified Olympic show when she hits the snow.
Many popular faces appeared in the men’s snowboarding podium as well. Right next to Toutant, Mons Røisland took second place. Røisland is known for his amazing runs and jaw-dropping rail grinds. The Norwegian snowboarder won a bronze medal in the 20th edition of the winter X Games.
Røisland was in love with the sport ever since he was a kid, strapping in for the first time as an eight-year-old whose board was “a bit too big for his size” said Røisland in an interview with the Now Bindings.
At third place, the American Luke Winkelmann appeared in the top three. The fun-loving personality of Winkelmann has become a staple of his career. He has cultivated a following on his social media for his captivating posts and amazing skills.
He is a two-time NorAm winner and the MVP of the Red Bull Recharged contest. His carefree ways and breathtaking stunts will get you on his side without making you realize it.
Toutant, Mark McMorris, Max Parrot, Liam Brearley and Darcy Sharpe make up the five renowned Canadian snowboarders that are fighting for four Olympic slots in Slopestyle and some big aerial events.
In this situation, none of them can afford a bad grade if they want to lock in their spot on the biggest sports stage of them all. Landing the first spot made Toutant closer to the ultimate goal, but his efforts won’t stop at Calgary however.
With two other Slopestyle events prior to Beijing, the amazing tricks we saw in this edition of the rodeo won’t be the last we’ll see from them. Many of those that participated in the rodeo are going to be present at the upcoming Slopestyle events. This is amazing news since many of them want to squeeze in some wins to set them apart from the competition they will be facing at the Olympics.
The rodeo continues to inspire new generations of skiers and snowboarders alike. It is an amazing event that speaks to the heart of every fan of winter sports. This amazing championship mixes Calgary’s three favourite words — snow, tricks and adrenaline. With this year’s edition concluded, Calgary can look forward to the ever closer Olympics. And after the show we saw at the rodeo, there is no telling what they will bring to the table next.