Sitting in the snow, fist straight in the air, Eliot Grondin knew that the podium was practically his.
Seconds earlier, he had crossed the finish line in a cloud of snow. In a last ditch attempt to throw their board nose forward, the top three finishers finished the race on their butts.
“I figured it was probably for second or third place. I didn’t know where the fourth was. I suspected it would be a podium, but it’s happening so fast that you have no idea. »
Leader of this final for most of the descent, Grondin ended up in third place after viewing the finish photo by the judges. The German Martin Nörl and the American Jake Vedder preceded him in the order.
Grondin, winner of the day before, therefore climbed on the podium for the second consecutive day, Sunday, at the Mont-Sainte-Anne Snowboardcross World Cup, the final competition of the season.
“It’s a dream weekend,” agreed Grondin, Canadian flag on his shoulders, after being cheered by his family during the official ceremony.
To his surprise, the 21-year-old Quebecer also climbed to the third step of the podium for his final winter ranking.
“Just 10 days ago I was eighth overall,” he recalled. I’m having a great weekend here and here I am third. Yes, I may have had a difficult season, but [to conclude] the last three World Cups in the grand final like that, it feels good. It’s going to make my summer a little easier mentally. »
The Olympic vice-champion in Beijing had finished second in 2021. “Hopefully next year it will be the globe. But I’m really super happy with my last few weeks. In fact, since the Worlds and the preparation that has been made with the team. Just to make it back to the Grand Finals, win and compete against the best guys…”
Competitors had to deal with flakes and soft conditions after a storm that left almost 30 centimeters of snow since the day before.
“It was pretty intense, nothing held up in the corners,” Grondin said. It was practically mogul fields. The snow was soft. Towards the end, he was starting to get wet in the glasses, you couldn’t really see where you were going. »
True to form, the athlete from Sainte-Marie-de-Beauce produced an excellent start in the final, giving himself a priority of one or two board lengths over his three pursuers. He maintained a lead until the home stretch.
“Ideally, coming out of the fourth corner, I would have had a few more lengths of plank, so that it really held up. But you are in the big final, in the World Cup. Succeeding in dominating from the start and leaving others out of the aspiration is doable, but it is really not easy. »
“I figured it would come back. Yesterday, it managed to hold, but not so much today. The Spaniard [Lucas Eguibar, 4th] touched my board in a straight line. We got into it a bit. I just wanted to stay in a straight line as much as possible. I saw them coming back and I just hoped that was enough for a podium. »
Martin Nörl closed the gap to be ahead of the American Jake Vedder by a tiny margin, yet convinced to win. With this victory, the German retained his place at the top of the rankings and got his hands on his second Crystal Globe in a row.
“It was the goal to win the globe,” explained Nörl, who was especially wary of Eguibar, his closest pursuer.
“Lucas was right behind me. I knew I had to be better than him. I had taken advantage of his suction and my board was super fast. At the finish, I didn’t know if I was first, second or third, but I knew that Lucas was behind me and that I had won the globe. At the end, I saw the finish photo. Winning is even better! That it ended like that, it’s just perfect. »
Reigning world vice-champion, Nörl, 29, was quick to praise Grondin’s merits.
“Eliot is still young and he has already won a lot,” said the German. We haven’t finished seeing it. It’s a f***ing good skateboarder, my apologies for my language. On a personal level, he is also a very good guy. I love it. »
Will he ever win a globe? “Yes, there is no doubt. »
Maëlle Ricker, co-head coach of the Canadian team, is also thinking big for her protege after this “perfect weekend for him”.
“Next year he’s going to be even stronger,” the 2010 Olympic gold medalist predicted. “It’s going to be really cool to follow him on his way to the Olympics in Italy in 2026. […] He He’s only 21, but he has the experience of someone older. It shows that he is going to be a champion for years to come. »
Tapping into her pocket, Ricker said she had a picture in her phone of herself with Eliot, who was 11 when she won gold at the Stoneham World Championships in 2013.
“He was very small like that… It’s cool to come back to run in Quebec 10 years later. Now he is big and he is a champion. »
Grondin did his part to pass on the torch himself by indulging in a signing session at the conclusion of the ceremonies.
“Having the chance to have a World Cup in Quebec is super cool for young people who play sports, he testified. It shows the scope of it all. It’s good for the next generation, lots of people will see that. It’s super good for the sport, especially in Quebec. »
Grondin spoke out for all snowboarders by saying that the whole circuit wants Mont-Sainte-Anne to become an annual event. One thing is certain, it is Canada Snowboard’s intention to pitch its tent in the same place next winter.