Vernon’s Curt Minard (right) won bronze at the season opening Para Snowboardcross World Cup in Finland Friday. (Facebook photo)

Vernon’s Curt Minard (right) won bronze at the season opening Para Snowboardcross World Cup in Finland Friday. (Facebook photo)

Minard races to bronze

Vernon’s Curt Minard ends up on podium at first Para Snowboardcross World Cup race in Finland

A bronze medal in the opening Para Snowboardcross World Cup has Vernon’s Curt Minard feeling great about his chances of a Paralympics podium spot.

Minard was third in the opening World Cup event Friday at the Pyha Ski Resort in Finland.

“It feels fantastic,” said Minard on his Facebook page. “I raced my way from eighth place and it felt like the Arctic Circle out there. “I love representing Canada, it’s always an honour. To be able to bring a bronze medal home on the World Cup stage was an amazing feeling.”

Minard is looking to qualify for his first Paralympic Winter Games.

“I am feeling confident in my riding this Paralympic season and I’m looking forward to pushing my limits and bringing more hardware home for Canada,” he said.

Minard followed Friday’s podium with a sixth place result Saturday. He had been fifth after qualifying.

“A lot of hard work has been done since this season opened and I owe many of you out there for believing in me and pushing me to be better,” said Minard, who will be returning home after a month in Europe.

In the bank slalom event, Minard recorded a sixth place showing at an Europa Cup event, and placed sixth and seventh in two World Cup competitions.

“These results are really good as his competition field is so strong and he his on pace for a strong presence in the Paralympic winter games in March 2018 (in Korea),” said Minard’s partner, Heidi Johnson. “There are more than 20 athletes in his category and upwards of 30 overall. It’s a very large playing field.”

Several Canadians managed to find themselves within the top ten during the course of both World cups, with Oshawa, Ont.’s Andrew Genge barely missing out on the podium on the second day of competition with a fourth place finish. Alex Massie (Barrie, Ont.) also stood out, finishing the first day in seventh after being narrowly edged out by the USA’s Evan Strong in the quarterfinal.

The Canadian team will now return home for some rest and relaxation before heading out to December’s Dew Tour in Breckenridge, Colorado for a Banked Slalom NorAM competition.

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