Big White 2017: Five things learned

Here are some takeaways from the World Para Snowboard Championships. 24 Feb 2017
The 2017 World Para Snowboard Championships was held in Big White, Canada, between 1-8 February.

The 2017 World Para Snowboard Championships was held in Big White, Canada, between 1-8 February.

ⒸGavin Crawford

As the last the last major competition ahead of the PyeongChang 2018 Paralympic Winter Games, the 2017 World Para Snowboard Championships provided a glimpse of what is to come.

Here are just five things we can take away from the second edition of the World Championships, which saw around 70 athletes from 15 nations compete in Big White, Canada.

1. USA litter podiums

The USA brought the biggest field to the Championships (around 14 athletes) and successfully showed they had the most talent. They medalled in seven of the 10 events and topped the medals table with three golds. Two belonged to Brenna Huckaby, who at 21 years old made it clear she is the one to beat at PyeongChang 2018 in the women’s SB-LL1 category.

After a successful World Cup series last season, Mike Minor came to Big White 2017 looking to impress in his World Championships debut. He did just that, flying to victory in snowboard-cross SB-UL but was just bumped to silver in the banked slalom.

2. Dutch duo tough to beat

Bibian Mentel-Spee and Chris Vos were the only two to enter Big White with a pair of golds from the 2015 World Championships in La Molina, Spain, and exit with two more.

Paralympic champion Mentel-Spee showed that her years of experience go a long way as she held off her younger counterparts Joany Badenhorst of Australia and compatriot Lisa Bunschoten in the women’s SB-LL2 category.

Meanwhile, Vos continues to add to his career as the Dutch teenager now has four world titles in the men’s SB-LL1.

3. New faces on the podium

France’s Maxime Montaggioni made himself known when he upset Minor in the men’s banked slalom SB-UL. Although he had made the podium at World Cups earlier this year, the French snowboarder finally reached the top for the first time in his career, and did so on the big stage.

Gurimu Narita is in his first season on the World Para Snowboard scene, and the Japanese rider did not take long to show he is a serious contender. He won all his races at the World Cup in Lake Tahoe, USA, a week prior to Big White 2017, where he left with bronze in the banked slalom.

Great Britain’s Owen Pick has been competing for five seasons and saw his hard work pay off when he collected silver ahead of Narita. Pick momentarily held the lead until Finland’s Matti Suur-Hamari wiped out the competition with his last run. But for Pick, reaching his first Worlds medal is encouraging especially ahead of PyeongChang 2018.

4. Missing Mayrhofer

Austria’s Patrick Mayrhofer did not get to defend his banked slalom SB-UL world title at Big White 2017 due to injury. The two-time overall World Cup winner was expected to contend with Minor in both events at Big White. Montaggioni was just as close to Minor in the Worlds, and if Mayrhofer can make a healthy recovery, competition in the men’s SB-UL would be even stiffer by PyeongChang 2018.

5. Not done yet

While the World Championships are complete, the World Cup series is still ongoing and will wrap up with the World Cup Finals in March. It will be held at the same venue where the sport will be contested at PyeongChang 2018, thus also acting as the Test Event. With an opportunity to feel the Paralympic course and close their season with the World Cup globes, snowboarders are not yet stowing away their gear for the offseason.