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02/18/2010

The Golden and Silver days of Snowboard

Steve Russell-Staff Photographer

What a two days at Cypress.

It was also two very different days covering the same event from two different places.

The first day, the weather for the men's snowboard cross was awesome.

Sun with some dramatic cloud, warm enough and loads of visibility.

Those conditions plus the fact that the Canadian athletes were not overwhelming favourites sent me up the hill in search of a nice action mountain picture.

Ideally with all four riders in the heat in the picture.

The next day, with two strong favourites in the women's event I planned to cover the bottom of the hill.

Originally we were only going to be allowed to be at P1, which is the first jump on the course.

However, over night some changes in the fencing was made and we were given the options of walking down to P2 or P3 (second or third jumps) 

I selected P3 because it had a nice mountain view and also had an angle on P1, a messy background angle, but an angle.

The trade off for this position is that you cannot move out of it one the competition began. 

In other words, when Mike Robertson won his silver medal, I was up on top of the mountain desperately climbing back up to the ski lift to get back down.

Once I saw the pictures from the bottom of the hill I did regret al little being at the top.

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Mike Robertson soars over P3 on the top of the course.

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 Mike Robertson leads his heat over the first jump of the course.

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Mike Robertson, #3, from Canada battles Nate Holland, # 8.

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Four boarders fly over Gate Judge Bill Drake at P3.

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Spending a day in the mountains feels complete after seeing an eagle.

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Coming down the lift I did see our Canadian on the podium for the flower ceremony!

Walking through the rain and thick fog the next day pushed all those regrets away. 

I set up at the bottom and after a couple hours of weather delays watched the race come to me.

A couple collisions happened up at P1, 2 and 3, but there was great action at the bottom of the hill.

There was a little drama at first, the weather delays threatened the second qualifying run and us sitting with a pair of Canadians having had terrible first runs.

Maelle Ricker came through on the second qualifying run and once the heats came she just dominated.

It reminded me of Chandra Crawford's performance in Torino.

Maelle Ricker's last two heats left everyone with little doubt who was the best boarder at Cypress Mountain that day. 

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Maelle Ricker wipes out during a training run at the finish line. 

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Maelle Ricker flies through the last corner on her way to Gold!

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Italian Raffaella Brutto crosses the finish line on her back after wiping out on the final jump.

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Maelle Ricker has a little trouble with her flag after winning gold.

-srussell@thestar.ca 

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Steve, these shots are fantastic, especially the one of Ricker flying through the air with the rings as a back drop. I also appreciate hearing about the trials and tribulations of covering these games - I hope you don't mind I referenced you in my own blog after I saw your pictures and read your post about covering the opening ceremonies: http://pattihenderson.wordpress.com/2010/02/15/frozen-moments/

Thanks for sharing your stories and your shots!

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