Canadians crash Swiss course

Vernon's Kevin Hill last Canadian standing after teammates crash out of FIS world cup snowboardcross event in Veysonnaz, Switzerland.

Normally, a 21st-place finish would be a bitter disappointment for Vernon’s Kevin Hill.

But given he was the lone national team snowboardcross member still able to ride after Thursday’s FIS World Cup snowboardcross series race in Veysonnaz, Switzerland, he’ll take it.

With crashes knocking his Canadian teammates out of the competition, Hill, along with a pair of development riders, was the only Canuck healthy enough to compete in a second time trial at the world cup event. He ranked 10th in Saturday’s qualifying and will compete in today’s main event.

“The reason there were so many crashes is because part of the course was narrow with a really sketchy section where riders would take the low line to protect themselves, but most of us ended up crashing in the process,” said Hill, who was fourth in qualifying Wednesday but crashed in Thursday’s main event to finish 21st.

Russia’s Andrew Boldykov won gold, Nate Holland of the U.S. claimed silver and France’s Pierre Vaultier took home bronze.

Calgary’s Chris Robanske was the top Canadian in 12th, Pierce Smith of Caledon, Ont. ranked 24th and Matthew Tunicliffe of Gananoque, Ont. was 44th.

Hill suggested the decision by race organizers to increase the number of riders in a heat likely contributed to the number of crashes.

“They are trying to make boardercross more exciting for viewers on TV so they are bumping most of the races this season to six-man heats (from four),” said the 25-year-old.

With poor snow conditions in Bad Gastein, Austria, world cup organizers made the Veysonnaz event a double-header.

“Both races are the same except some changes to the course,” said Hill.