This year’s zombie-themed Showcase Showdown was brought back to life when skies over Whistler cleared up in time for the finals of Canada’s longest-running snowboard contest on Saturday afternoon (March 2).
Marc-André Tremblay and Breanna Stangeland were first-time winners in the 16th annual Showdown — which took on a big air format this time — outlasting the competition through rainy qualifiers and exciting finals that drew hundreds of spectators to Skiers Plaza.
Tremblay captured the men’s top prize of $2,500, riding into the top 12 that advanced from the soggy jam session and surviving three rounds of head-to-head jump-offs in the finals as clouds parted.
Tremblay was happy to redeem himself from 2012, when he did “not too good” in his Showdown debut.
“I fell and didn’t even make it to finals, so I’m stoked to win this one this year,” he said.
Matt Belzile made a last-minute decision to enter and wound up in second place, while Nathan Therrieault also hit the podium after reaching the one-run, three-man superfinal. Judges picked Tremblay for the win after he put down a switch frontside 900 tail grab for his last trick of the day.
Tremblay said the downpour at the base of Whistler Mountain made conditions tough early in the day, but he credited the work of event staff to keep the 55-foot kicker in good shape.
“It was pretty bad this morning, but in the afternoon it came out pretty well,” said the unsponsored rider. “All those volunteer guys who were scraping the jump did a real good job.”
Belzile usually focuses on filming and backcountry riding, but was compelled to compete after passing by the jump on Friday (March 1).
“I was riding down yesterday and I saw the jump and thought it looked pretty sweet, so I informed myself and I registered today,” he said.
The local rider went for a 1080 on his superfinal jump but wasn’t able to put it down cleanly.
“A lot of my friends are telling me I should have gone with the safe trick, but I went for the glory and got second place,” laughed Belzile, who still had a $1,000 payday.
“When it cleared up, (the jump) got really good and that’s when the bigger tricks came out. It was fun.”
Finding consistent speed to hit the jump was tough during the two-hour jam qualifiers for the dozens of snowboarders entered. Whistler-based Jon Versteeg of the Canadian slopestyle team was the top qualifier earlier in the afternoon. Defending champ Jesse Millen was also among the 12 guys advancing to the finals, but both were eliminated prior to the superfinal.
National team rider Stangeland recently recovered from a broken tailbone and vertebrae that she sustained during the FIS World Snowboard Championships in Quebec earlier this year. She had been back on her board for just four days, but still topped the women’s field on Saturday. Gillian Andrewshenko finished second and Carly Scott placed third to round out the women’s podium.