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January 10, 2014, VALLNORD-ARCALIS, Andorra (ISN) – Olympic-bound Dominique Maltais showed no rust from the Christmas break on Friday as she sped to the fastest time in qualifying at a snowboard cross World Cup competition.

The Petite-Riviere-St-François, Que., resident clocked one minute and 13.43 seconds in qualifying which determines the seedings for the finals on Saturday. Eva Samkova of the Czech Republic was also fast finishing right behind the Canadian in 1:13.66. Alexandra Jekova of Bulgaria was third in 1:15.40.

“I think Eva and I certainly sent a message today being two seconds faster than the rest of the field,” said Maltais, the 2006 Olympic bronze medallist. “But tomorrow is another day and conditions and the course could be different. But still it’s a great way to start the second half of the season.”

Maltais returned home for two weeks after the last World Cup before Christmas. In the first half she won two silver medals at World Cups in Lake Louise and Montafon, Austria.

“I continued to train hard over the Christmas period and did my homework so I would be ready for this World Cup,” she said.

The top-12 on the first run automatically qualified for the finals. Twelve more spots were available on a second run which was topped by Maelle Ricker of Squamish, B.C., in 1:15.49, who had fallen on her first run. Carle Brenneman of Whistler and Zoe Bergermann of Acton, Ont., also qualified for finals ranking eighth and 11th on the second run.

Four Canadians advanced to finals on the men’s side: Chris Robanske of Calgary and Kevin Hill of Vernon, B.C., qualified 15th and 23rd on the first run. Twenty for more spots were up for grabs on the second run with Robert Fagan of Squamish, B.C., first and Baptiste Brochu of Saguenay, Que., 18th.

Brochu was competing at only his second World Cup.

Leeson meets Olympic criteria in parallel slalom

At a World Cup snowboard event in Bad Gastein of Austria, Marianne Leeson of Burlington, Ont., is one step closer to clinching a nomination on the Canadian Olympic team Friday after finishing 16th in the women’s parallel slalom.

Leeson earned her third top-16 World Cup result over the past two seasons to meet the Olympic selection criteria set by Canada Snowboard.

Patrizia Kummer of Switzlerland, Ester Ledecka of the Czech Republic and Marion Kreiner of Austria were 1-2-3.

Ariane Lavigne of Lac-Supérieur, Que., was 17th , missing the finals by one spot, Ekaterina Zavialova of was 34th and Caroline Calvé of Lachine, Que., 37th.

On the men’s side, Matthew Morison was the top Canadian in 14th. Michael Lambert was Toronto was 18th, Matthew Carter of Maryhill, Ont., 21st and Steve Barlow of Courtice, Ont., 25th.

Alexander Bergmann of Germany won gold.