Nakai, Pesko Take FIS Whistler Halfpipe

WHISTLER, BC, December 13, 2003 — Japan’s Takaharu Nakai finished first in the men’s competition, Germany’s Xaver Hoffmann came second, and Jan Michaelis, also German, came third. In the women’s competition, Switzerland’s Manuela Pesko repeated her 2002 Whistler World Cup win with another win today, Australia’s Torah Bright finished second, and Whistler’s Mercedes Nicoll can in third.

The excitement of the pipe competition was the perfect end to a successful three days of snowboard action here in Whistler. An enthusiastic crowd, great pipe conditions and good visibility helped the Canadian team members and visiting athletes deliver strong performances.

Switzerland’s Pesko had a great day and felt good about taking home Whistler Gold for the second year in a row. “It was a very good day, she said. “I wasn’t too nervous in the qualifier, the pipe conditions were very good, and I’m happy to be in Whistler.

Nicoll was very pleased with her performance today, which was a repeat of last year’s Whistler World Cup result. “It was pretty exciting to repeat last year’s performance here today in front of my friends and family, she said. “I’ve been training down in California so this was my first week in the pipe here at Whistler. I’m really confident when I ride here and I felt really comfortable in the pipe today — it was lots of fun.

The Halfpipe competition was held today in Blackcomb’s infamous Superpipe with 5 metre high walls that launch riders over 4 meters above the lip. Huge airs and gravity-defying tricks were launched in succession as the world’s best riders blasted out of the pipe to victory.

The 300+ athletes in Whistler for this week’s competition, representing 23 nations from around the world, now pack up and move on to Stoneham, Quebec for the next stop of the Tour.