Article by: Canada Snowboard
Today marked the kickoff of the Parallel Giant Slalom race at the 2023 Canada Games in Brookvale, where the focus shifted from airborne tricks in the slopestyle event - a day earlier - to who can hold the fastest line. Riders navigated their way through a series of 19 gates, alternating between the blue and red course throughout the day.
In the name of speed it was the riders job to outlast their competitor and the only way to do that was to be the fastest down the course. From what started as a 54 rider field, narrowed to a series of 16 riders, from there 8, 4 (small final) and lastly 2 (big final). As the day advanced the fan base grew, as did the volume of the cheers and the celebratory rattle of cow bells at the finish.
Jumping to the men’s small final… the battle for 3rd and 4th were up to Quebec contingents Jacob Lebel, and Olivier Gagne, with Gagne solidifying the bronze by a hair at 0.55 seconds faster. For the men’s big final… This time it was two Team Ontario riders vying for the top spot, Gabriel Wood and Luis Keesmaat Freeman. In a fast dance down the course working their way through the gates in parallel fashion it was anyone’s game, but in the end it was Freeman who took the gold by a mere 0.32 seconds, landing Wood in silver.
On the women’s side it was Rose Savard-Ferguson with Team Quebec who edged out Nicola Jane May Dempsey (Team Nova Scotia) out of a podium spot and into bronze in the small final. Then there were two… It was another tight race in the women’s big final. Felicity Geremia (Team Alberta) and Bridget Maclean (Team Nova Scotia) after taking to the start gate the fight was on. Maclean crossed the finish line 0.73 seconds faster claiming the gold, and Geremia with silver.
These were the names and provinces on top, however throughout the day it was clear the joy these riders have for the sport and the respect these riders have for each other. No matter who your competitor was or the team they were competing for, riders acknowledged each other with a fist bump or a celebratory handshake at the finish. When the event was all done, it was these same riders heading to the top of the course to help tear the course down. I found this to be unique in the world of sport and a respectable norm among the alpine snowboard community.
L>R | Sliver position: Gabriel Wood (Team ON), Felicity Geremia (Team AB) | Gold: Luis Keesmaat Freeman (Team ON), Bridget Maclean (Team NS) | Bronze: Olivier Gagne (Team QC), Rose Savard-ferguson (Team QC)
PGS | Results
Photo: Larry Mathewson