(Beaupré) “Eliot is so focused and consistent that a bomb would almost fall next to him as he descends, and he wouldn’t move…”

Dominique Maltais’ image perfectly sums up Eliot Grondin’s dream day at the Mont-Sainte-Anne Snowboardcross World Cup on Saturday afternoon.

The snowboarder from Saint-Marie won the third success of his career there in front of a few hundred spectators committed to his cause.

“It’s my first World Cup victory this year after a difficult season and [it’s happening] at home,” reacted the freshly crowned winner.

Grondin was in turn ahead of the Austrian Jakob Dusek and the Spaniard Lucas Eguibar, no less than the last two world champions in the discipline.

First to qualify the day before, the 21-year-old Quebecer won three of his four heats, dominating the most important end to end, the final, where he resisted the in extremis comeback of Dusek, who crossed the line almost ass over head.

Grondin waited for the finish photo to be decided before raising his arms while his friends from Beauce, several of whom were brandishing a card displaying his face, were already celebrating at the edge of the track.

“I had seen out of the corner of my eye the Austrian coming back strong; I actually didn’t know who it was. I saw him fall, I thought it would probably be me [the winner]. But you never know until the result is official. I saw the little photo-finish sign. So it’s a matter of waiting, but I was practically convinced that I had just won. »

The two-time Olympic medalist built his confidence over the week on the course dubbed “Battle Royale”, the official name of the event, the first snowboardcross presented on Quebec soil since that of Stoneham in 2013.

“I knew I was doing great all day and all week here. It was just to really be fluid in the corners and not fight with others and lose speed. I took the lines to bring the speed in the last part. In the grand final, it happened that I was up front. So I didn’t have to fight for the lines. »

A change of equipment during the elimination waves was also profitable, after having to adapt to a new brand of boards at the start of winter. “That’s why we saw the speed pick up a bit for me,” said the man whose last victory was in Veysonnaz, Switzerland, a year earlier.

Author of another excellent start in the final, Grondin crossed his fingers that his lead held. “I was just hoping the other guy didn’t catch up to me. I was up front and I was like, ‘OK, go as fast as you can, stay small and hope he doesn’t come back on you…’ I’m glad it worked out. »

The hero of the day was eager to find his parents and his brother Ishmael, who were attending one of his World Cups for the first time.

Her mother was incredibly calm. She felt like she was at a Quebec Cup, back when her teenage son dominated older rivals.

“I’m really less stressed than for a remote World Cup,” said Mélanie Turcotte. More are going to be needed in Quebec! I was super relaxed. It’s as if it were natural, it’s silly to say! It’s like I knew he would win today. It was written in the sky. »

His father was much less calm. “I was really stressed! admitted Jean-Francis Grondin. It’s like a dream. The script is perfect. First in qualifying, he won his downhills… Everything is fine. »

The reward for parents, who allowed their son to miss school to follow the World Cups played in Stoneham in the early 2010s: a beautiful big smile on the podium. “It’s worth the price,” Mr. Grondin summed up.

At the time, Dominique Maltais was an idol for the young Eliot, who forged a special relationship with the double Olympic medalist. She had the pleasure of analyzing his runs live and presenting him on the podium on Saturday.

Her voice almost cracked… “I had chills in my legs and butterflies in my stomach. He’s a protege and I was a bit sold commenting on the race, that’s for sure. »

Maltais underlined “the great wisdom and the great potential” of the young man who is already in his sixth season in the World Cup.

With the 100 points associated with his win, Grondin jumped from eighth to fourth in the season’s standings. He is 71 points behind the leader, the German Martin Nörl, relegated to the small final on Saturday (7th).

“I’m not watching the race for the globe,” said Grondin, who nevertheless had his eyes on Sunday’s event which will be held at the same location, the ninth and last on the calendar of the season.

“I’ve done 50% of the work and [it’s going to be] starting over tomorrow. »