Strong showings for Rossland snowboard cross riders

The four top women compete in Sunday
The four top women compete in Sunday's final.
— image credit: Steve Hilts photo /

A number of Rossland riders really shone at the Provincial Series snowboard cross event last weekend at Red which Cathy Astofooroff, the executive director of the BC Snowboard Association, said went “like clockwork.”

“It’s a wonderful mountain,” she continued. “For the event, in its third year, it’s great. People love coming here.”

Astofooroff herself has skied at Red since she was very young.

“The course could be a little bit more challenging, but it’s good overall,” she said.

Riders came from all over to join in the competition, everywhere from the West Coast to the Okanagan, including a contingent from the First Nation’s Snowboard Team out of Kelowna, to Nelson, Revelstoke, Calgary and even Helena, Montana.

The event’s commentator was Brett Tippie, who retired from the World Cup snowboard cross circuit in 2000 as the Canadian champion. Tippie, also known for his skills on a mountain bike, has since returned to snowboard cross as a coach.

“It’s great having an announcer,” Astofooroff enthused. “He’s entertainment!”

Tippie was clearly loving his job.

“Here I am, just calling it,” he said, “getting into it, getting the kids pumped, just sprickin’ and sprackin’!”

The weekend event was comprised of both official FIS races for adults and “open” races, mostly for junior riders.

Tippie noted that the FIS is “middle level,” but added:”These [events] are all building blocks for the Olympics and the World Cup. These [racers] are our up-and-comers, our pros of tomorrow.”

Tippie was especially pleased to be on this mountain which he hasn’t skied since the 1990s.

“I took a few rips yesterday,” he said, “Orchards, Short Squaw. Lovin’ it, lovin’ being at Red again!”

In the FIS races, the Pitman brothers from Trail really stood out.

On Saturday, Tommy Pitman took gold while Mitch Pitman settled for fifth — the top finisher in the consolation round.

The next day, Mitch was on the podium with silver while Tommy took fifth.

Shaun Georgison made the consolation round on Saturday while Tra Schalm-Speidel’s qualifying times were just shy.

Both riders train in Rossland.

The following day, the roles had reversed with Schalm-Speidel in the consolation round.

Miles Fortolozky, who also trains in Rossland, placed lower but managed to shave an average of five seconds off each of his runs on Sunday relative to his Saturday times.

In the women’s FIS races, Jesse McDonald of Nelson stole the show, winning gold twice. Despite a small field of only eight racers, she was also the only rider to make the final heat both days.

In the open races, 15 year old Paige Kopan of Christina Lake put in solid races both days, winning against younger girls on Saturday, and then taking gold again the next day even though she was competing in a different age category, this time against four women in their mid-twenties.

Her main competition may have been 23 year old Silvie Giannelia of Rossland who took gold in the 19-and-over category on Saturday but did not race on Sunday.

There were only enough men for the 19-and-over category on Saturday when Rossland’s Erik Schrottner took second out of three competitors.

Rossland’s Davis Thompson competed in the male 14-and-under category with a number of other Kootenay Riders whose homes range from London, Ontario (Isaac Ward), to Calgary (Liam Lafrance), to Creston (Scott Griffeon).

The Kootenay Riders are part of the Red Mountain Academy.

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