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Graham matches career-high at World Cup race in Russia, Bichon not far off his best

Weekend snowboard cross races in Krasnoyarsk, Russia finalize Olympic team qualifying
Snowboard cross Jan 9 2022
Colby Graham, left, passes Lucas Equbar of Spain for the lead midway through their World Cup snowboard cross eighth-final heat race Sunday in Krasnoyarsk, Russia.

A day after he achieved a career-best 12th-place finish in the World Cup snowboard cross tour in Krasnoyarsk, Russia, Evan Bichon of Prince George nearly duplicated the feat.

Bichon was second in his eighth-final heat Sunday but was eliminated in the quarterfinals. He had the lead out of the gate and was second in the top section but dropped to fourth near the bottom of the course and ended up 13th in a field of 49 starters.

”It was a really fun race,” said the 23-year-old Bichon. “My gameplan was so close to paying off and getting into semis.”

Colby Graham of Prince George matched his best World Cup finish when he placed 17th on Sunday.

The 20-year-old D.P. Todd Secondary School graduate just missed advancing to the quarter-finals when he was caught near the bottom of the course by teammate Liam Moffatt of Truro, N.S. Lucas Egubar led the race until the midway mark, when Graham moved up from second place to pass the Spaniard on one of the high banked corners at Krasnoyarsk. Egubar regained his lead shortly after and went into the final corner just ahead of Graham, with Moffatt right on their tails.

“Colby had some contact with Egubar, which slowed him down or he very well might have made it through that round,” said Bichon.

Graham also placed 17th Jan. 24, 2021 in Chiesa in Valmalenco, Italy. He was 40th in qualifying Friday and did not advance to Saturday’s race.

Matin Noerl of Germany won both races on the Russian course. Jakob Dusek of Austria was second Sunday and Eliot Grondin of St. Marie de Beauce, Que., claimed bronze.

Charlotte Bankes of Great Britain also swept both races. The World Cup points leader edged Chloe Trespeuche of France and American Lindsey Jacobellis for top spot on the podium Sunday.

Audrey McManiman of St. Ambrose de Kildare, Que., was the top Canadian woman in eighth place. Zoe Bergermann of Erin, Ont., was ninth, Tess Critchlow of Kelowna was 13th and Meryeta O’Dine of Prince George was 25th.

Sunday’s race was the final qualifying event for the Olympics next month  in Beijing. The World Cup tour has one more scheduled stop before the Olympic competition when the racers convene in Cortina D’ampezzo, Italy Jan. 28-29. O’Dine, 24, was fourth at a race in December in Montafon, Austria and could be in line for her second consecutive Olympic team berth.