Controversial officiating denies YUsnow clean sweep on the slopes

Tom Farrow completes his run in the snowboard event, although York were forced to share the spoils after Lancaster appealed. Image: Courtesy of YUsnow

Tom Farrow completes his run in the snowboard event, although York were forced to share the spoils after Lancaster appealed. Image: Courtesy of YUsnow

The final score over at Rossendale on Friday evening read York 10 Lancaster 2 as YUsnow once again left behind a trail of disheartened Lancastrians in the ski and snowboard events, despite having very little training on dry slopes since Christmas.

The club have been concentrating on real snow training for their BUCS events at Easter in the French Alps, but they still bossed proceedings in the rain here, narrowly missing out on a repeat of last year’s whitewash through some contentious officiating.

The ladies’ teams opened the events with a comfortable clean sweep for York, winning three out of three races in the best of five relay format competition. Skiing first, Steph Campbell-Woodward showed speed and impeccable technique to pull out a strong lead, instantly putting Lancaster on the back foot, and leaving Louise Cotrel-Gibbons and Alana Buchanan to only increase the gap between the two teams.

Emily Bird finished the job for York, finishing a full course length ahead of the last Lancastrian skier. The second race was as easy as the first, as Lancaster did not make full use of their team – their best skier was to race in fourth position, leaving her to ski the course once the race was already all over.

In the third race, Emily Scott, the York Sport President, took to the slopes in place of Cotrel-Gibbons, eager to finish the job of winning four points for her beloved York which she did with a flawless run.

The mixed races were concluded in an even faster time, with York winning two out of two races in a best of three competition – the schedule reduced apparently because of a lack of time, thought observers suspected that Lancaster simply did not want to lose more races than they had to.

Dave Tee took the lead, leaving Lancaster in no doubt that the rest of the race would be a formality. Matt Thomas, Rob Wallis and Campbell-Woodward pulled ahead, leaving outgoing captain James Lodge to complete the race before the last Lancastrian skier had even started the course.

York absolutely slaughtered the inferior Lancastrians with little effort, scooping one of the easiest four point haul of the entire Roses weekend.

Controversy and conflict arose, however, when the snowboarding results were disputed by some Lancaster racers, despite many supporters from both sides and the hosting team’s captain agreeing on a win for York.

With the Red Rose supplying the flag officials at the finish line, indicating when the next competitor can start their descent, there was a lack of balance in the officiating.

The first board race saw both teams struggle, with several falls on the increasingly slippery surface, and a photo finish which resulted in both teams agreeing on a draw. The second race saw less falls as York focused; Tom Farrow got a good start, preserved by Paul Oates and Ben Ward. This really put the pressure on Lancaster, as board captain Marlies Neuner finished the race just in the lead.

However, the (Lancastrian) stewards claimed that when Neuner fell near the end, she did not complete the course correctly, missing a gate, and that Lancaster should thus claim the race. This was disputed by York who saw no such mistake, supported by several Lancastrian observers. Both teams agreed to discount both races and to start again in a best of three format.

York, now warmed up and looking comfortable (only Neuner had been able to attend dry slope training), proceeded to win the next two races and it appeared to be all over for Lancaster with another four points in the bag.

However, Lancaster, still angry over the result in the second race, insisted on changing the format once again by introducing a deciding fifth race: if York was to win, the four points would belong to the White Rose, if Lancaster won, the points would be split.

Unfortunately, the deciding race saw Lancaster produce their best form of the afternoon and finish just ahead of York, claiming a controversial two points for the Red Rose.

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