Snowboarder McKenna on top of the world

22nd December 2003

Lesley McKenna will spend Christmas on the slopes in Europe safe in the knowledge that she has completed another first for a British snowsports athlete this season, when she took the overall lead in the half pipe discipline of the Nokia Snowboard FIS World Cup tour with a hard won third place late on Saturday night.

The Scot, who proved her superb levels of strength and fitness with her BBC Superstars win in the summer, was only 1.5 points short of her second win of the season, and was judged only 0.2 of a point behind Switzerland's second placed Manuela Pesko. Japan's Soko Yamaoka won the contest outright, but after a victory in Sweden and ninth in Whistler McKenna heads the overall standings with a 90 points margin.

" I am really pleased to be leading the standings, but the good thing really is that I really feel I can go out now and get some more wins. This was a real confidence booster here and I know I can go better." Commented McKenna.

With the half pipe in the Canadian resort slightly shorter than usual McKenna was required to adapt her usual sequence of tricks. Having to drop her best points scoring 720 which she usually finishes her run with she was forced into doing back to back 540's.

Accomplishing this on the second qualifying run her confidence was buoyed and the contest was tight all the way to the finish. " I am just exhausted it has been a long hard day and really any one of the top four girls could have won. It was so, so close in the end to getting second." Said McKenna. " The good thing looking forward is that I have done the back to back 540's now and know I can do that.

If I can do them and finish with the seven (720) then I would be on to a winner, that no one else is doing. If I could do that with a nine (the 900 which only McKenna has done in training) then it would be so cool. Now I feel I am out for wins and want to hang on to this lead." " What is great is that I am really confident in my riding and doing new tricks.
That comes, I think with having done so much different riding through the summer and not only just riding pipe. I think that gives me a bit of an edge over the other girls. I am so excited." Lesley's next event is at Kreischberg, Austria on 23-24th January, so the Aviemore rider is guaranteed at least a month on top of the world.

Results: Nokia Snowboard FIS World Cup, Stoneham, Canada; Women's Half-Pipe:
1 S Yamaoka (Jpn) 38.5 points,
2 M Pesko (Sui) 37.2 points,
3 L McKenna (GBR) 37.0 points,
4 R Masolini (Ita) 32.5pts,
5 M Marbach (Sui) 32.5pts,
6 H Kurkinen (Fin) 28.8