In spite of temperatures that reached negative 30 during the course Canadian Olympic hopefuls gathered in Calgary, Alberta January 7-9, 1998 to compete for a spot on the team. In the end four snowboarders were chosen to represent their country in the upcoming 1998 Olympics. Brett Carpentier, Trevor Andrew, Derek Heidt, and Michael Michaelchuck will spend the next four weeks in one of the brightest spotlights these young riders will ever see in their snowboarding careers.
“It’s been a long couple of days,” reported Derek Heidt on Friday evening after escaping the press conference that took place immediately proceeding the selection announcement. “The cold weather combined with the pressure really made it tiring.”
According to team selection member Mike Wood, the three days of trials went smooth in spite of the Calgary cold, and allowed riders to not only prove their ability, but also to see who could perform consistently under stress. Highest points were awarded for a combination of height, technical skills, and the ability to use the entire length of the halfpipe. Each day was a contest, and at the end of the three days the riders with the best two out of three days were given a slot on the team.
While there were more than a handful of people who sat at the top of the pack going into the trials, by the second day the strongest riders were apparently beginning to shine through. The first day French-Canadian Brett Carpentier took first, with Albertan Michael Michaelchuck following closely behind. Mt. Seymour-native Jorli Ricker took third, and Derek Heidt came in fourth. Surprisingly, 18-year-old Trevor Andrew, the Nova Scotia native who recently won a 50 grand big air contest in Sweeden, took a seat in ninth place on the first day.
Disappointing results must have been just what young Trevor needed, because the following day he rode right into first place. Derek Heidt and Michael Michaelchuck followed behind Trevor, once again pulling off consistent performances for the second day in a row. The last day was the clincher for the three of the four riders who all placed well enough to ensure their spots. Brett Carpentier chose to not ride the last day, due to a slight ankle injury, but still slid comfortably into a spot with his results from the first two days and from this season’s FIS points.
“This was our first chance to get a taste of the next month to come and to see how the Olympics is changing snowboarding,” Heidt said. “We all felt the pressure and then later in the press room there were like million cameras.”
With the men’s team chosen, the Canadian halfpipe team is now complete. The women’s team, which was chosen before Christmas, will include Albertan Tara Teigan, Maelle Ricker, Lori Glazer, and hopefully Natasza Zurek. Natasza reportedly is suffering from a knee injury at the moment, but is expected to be strong enough by February to ride again in time for Nagano.