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    Saturday, January 10, 1998

    Halfpipe dreams

    By AL RUCKABER -- Calgary Sun
      For once, big air wasn't the main topic of conversation among the snowboard grunge set yesterday at Canada Olympic Park.
     Instead, the Olympic dream was the hot topic of the day.
     The occasion was the official selection of the 12-person Canadian snowboard team for the Nagano Games next month.
     And nobody had bigger Olympic dreams come true than Calgary natives Mike Michalchuk and Derek Heidt, who had just finished three days of team trials in the halfpipe aerials competition on home snow at COP.
     Michalchuk and Heidt were named to the team, along with Brett Carpentier of Mt. Tremblant, Que., and Trevor Andrew of Falmouth, N.S.
     Along with the men's halfpipe team, the men's giant slalom and women's halfpipe squads were also announced. Their team trials were completed earlier this week. The men's giant slalom includes Mark Fawcett (Saint John, N.B./Incline Village, New York), Jasey J. Anderson (Val-Morin, Que.), Darren Chalmers (Whistler, B.C.) and Ross Rebagliati (Whistler, B.C.).
     The women's halfpipe team is comprised of Tara Teigen (Calgary), Maelle Ricker (West Vancouver), Natasza Zurek (Vancouver) and Lori Glazier (Whistler, B.C.).
     For Michalchuk, 20, who was raised and lives in Calgary, making the team was the realization of a great dream.
     "It's awesome ," said Michalchuk, who capped off the trials with a very impressive 90.7-point first-place finish yesterday. Andrew was second at 88.8 points.
     "Coming into these trials, just about anybody had a chance to make the team. Nothing was assured, certainly not for me. You know, when I took up this sport, it was just to have fun.
     "Then, about two years ago, I heard it was going to be an Olympic sport and that's when I set my goal to make the team and get there. Something I was just having fun with is now going to pay off. I can't believe it -- I'm going to the Olympics."
     Michalchuk's mom, Joan, was even more excited.
     "I've never ever even met anybody who has been in the Olympics, but now I sure know one first hand," she enthused.
     "When Michael was growing up, that's the last thing I would have dreamed for him -- being in the Olympics. It was never something that entered my mind."
     Michalchuk's story is of perseverance.
     "I broke my ankle dirt biking back in March and because of that, I was put on the B team at the beginning of this season," he said.
     "So, I missed out on the tour in Europe. But I worked real hard and worked my way back. Now, I'm here. The Olympics. This is definitely awesome."
     For Heidt, 22, the selection was also the realization of a dream.
     "When I first found out boarding would be in the Olympics, I set my goal to make the Olympic team," said Heidt, who was born and raised in Calgary but has lived in Whistler, B.C., the past five years.
     "It still hasn't sunk in that I made it. I'm blown away by it right now. Every goal that I've set for myself, I've made. Still, I'm a little numb over this."
     But the flamboyant young man who's known as Hollywood Heidt on the snowboarding scene, isn't quite sure which city he'll be representing at Nagano.
     "Calgary or Whistler -- that's a real good question. I don't know. Maybe I'll have to go a slash -- Calgary/Whistler."
     Either way, he's going.
     For Heidt and Michalchuk, the big dream has come true. Now it's time to get big air at Nagano.