MacLean makes small final as Canada held off podium in snowboard cross

LAKE PLACID, NY – Canada’s Bridget MacLean finished seventh in the women’s snowboard cross to post Canada’s best competition result of Day 1 of the Lake Placid 2023 FISU Games, crossing the small final finish line third after falling in the semifinal. 

“I’m pretty happy with seventh place; my goal was kind of top-eight, so it was kind of what I was hoping for,” MacLean of UBCO said post-race. “I’ve had so much fun since being here, and I guess that’s kind of the goal of the Games, being happy to compete; there’s some really talented competition.”

With temperatures above freezing and rain at lower elevations, the course’s snow got eaten up quickly, and by the final run, it was all slush. Additionally, the race wasn’t helped by the FISU snowboard cross structure. 

Rather than the traditional knockout structure, the FISU Games operate on a round-robin basis, giving every rider five runs, and ranking the top eight on points before entering knockout brackets. 

Although the structure gives more opportunities to the single-event athletes, it was clear that running a total of 48 heats was a concern for snow conditions and athlete safety. 

While MacLean grabbed a top-eight spot, her teammate, Clara Chapman, got her toe side caught on the third-course element, forcefully hit the snow and required over 15 minutes of on-hill medical attention. 

49 Sports reached out for an update and was told that she has been transferred to the local hospital with Team Canada therapists and is doing “okay.”

Alexandre Cadieux of the University of Ottawa completed each of his runs but couldn’t move on to the semifinal, finishing the men’s round-robin in 16th place out of 19. 

France’s Ben Gattaz took the men’s gold medal, adding a FISU Games title to his four European Cup medals and 27 FIS World Cup starts, while Czechia’s World Championship-experienced rider Jakub Zerava took silver. Leon Beckhaus of Germany, who has finished top-5 on the World Cup, rounded off the podium. 

On the women’s side, Switzerland’s Sophie Hediger captured gold, earning her first multi-sport Games medal after finishing seventh at the Beijing 2022 Olympics, while France took the silver and bronze medals with Chloe Passerat and Kim Martinez. 

While the Games are over for Canada’s snowboard cross athletes, six other Canadian snowboarders will compete in giant slalom and freestyle competitions, looking to secure a portion of the 21 remaining medals in slopestyle, big air and GS. At the same time, there’s still medals up for grabs on the snowcross course with the men’s and women’s ski cross races set for Jan. 16 at Gore Mountain.

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