A scheduling hiccup ended up working in Kevin Hill’s favour to start the FIS World Cup snowboard-cross season.
Vernon’s Hill, who competed in the 2014 Olympics in Sochi, travelled to Pitzstal, Austria Nov. 20 for a preseason training camp with the Canadian national team.
The plan was to train for 10 days and then head to Montafon, Austria for the first World Cup stop of the season. However, a week into camp, snow control said the race would have to be postponed until today, leaving the team stranded in Europe for three weeks.
Seeing there were loads of international athletes already in Pitzstal, organizers decided to move the Austrian Nationals and Europa Cup ahead by a few weeks so all the World Cup riders would have a chance to race before the season started.
“Instead of doing qualifiers, because of so many heats and such little time, they did heats with 90-plus riders, meaning instead of the normal 32 qualified and four heats to the finals, it was now six heats to the finals,” said Hill, 28.
“I had a great run through my heats, leading start to finish. Then in the finals, I was out in front for over half of the course where two riders were able to draft behind me and overtake me. I came across the line for a third place.
“I was very fatigued after racing six heats at over 10,000 feet (elevation), but stoked to start out my season on the podium with 35-plus World Cup riders in the field.”
Hill raced against another stacked field in the Europa Cup the following day. A mistake in the semifinal caused him to miss the final, landing him sixth.
The Canadian team granted its athletes a four-day break, and Hill took full advantage by heading south to Venice, where he had a blast.
Hill returned to Austria on Dec. 7, only to learn the World Cup in Montafon had been cancelled due to warm weather and lack of snow. That race was supposed to be the World Championships qualifier for the Canadian team, so they used the results from Pitzstal instead.
“I’m very happy to say I had the top Canadian finish and will have a spot to compete at the World Championships in Austria, in January,” smiled Hill.
Hill is back in Vernon training at the gym in preparation for worlds, in Austria, in January. After that, he heads directly to Aspen for Winter X-Games.
He thanked his sponsors – BioX Nutrition, Rancho Vignola, Fitness Max, Karl at Professional Hands Massage Therapy, Fitness Max and Oakley.