Tommy Pitman sporting the gold medal he won on Saturday at the Canada Winter Games.

Tommy Pitman sporting the gold medal he won on Saturday at the Canada Winter Games.

Snowboardcross – Pitman back home with gold, races at Red this weekend

After early stumble Warfield boarder cruises to victory

The Canada Winter Games gold medal came relatively easy for Tommy Pitman considering his nerve-wracking start.

Pitman returned home this week wearing a gold medal from the snowboardcross event at the Canada Winter Games in Halifax.

And although the 17-year-old Warfield native cruised to victory in the final race at the Martock Ski Resort on Saturday, he admitted his start left him a little nervous.

“In my first qualifier I fell,” recalled Pitman.

Racers get two qualifying attempts to determine seeds and gate selection for the heat races. However, his fall on the first run put a lot of pressure on his second chance. He needed a good time but more importantly he needed a clean run.

“I was like, ‘Oh no.’ The next run I had to take it easy. I just wanted make it down.”

Still Pitman knew he needed a strong time.

“I wanted a high qualifier so I could pick which gate I wanted,” he said.

Pitman explained that from the previous day’s training, it was crucial to pick the right gate to get the start needed in the race.

He responded by posting the second fastest time, which put him in a comfortable position heading into the heat races.

He won his quarter-final race and it started to sink in that he had a great shot at gold during the semifinals, which he also won. In another heat, Quebec’s Antony Darmour, who posted the fastest qualifying time, was eliminated, which put Pitman in the driver’s seat.

“I had first gate choice (for the final),” he said. “I had a good start and was out front right away.

“The two guys in the back fell so it was just me and Alex (Nakusp native Thorp) in front.

“I didn’t even look back. Alex was right behind me almost the whole way but messed up on one of the jumps at the bottom so that slowed him down a little bit.”

Pitman hit the finish line and he found his parents, Len and Val, and twin brother Mitch cheering him from the crowd.

That’s when the sense of accomplishment hit him.

“I did it,” he recalled. “It felt good.”

He added he had plenty of Facebook well-wishes from friends back home.

This weekend he’ll reunite with his brother in competition when Red Mountain hosts the B.C. provincial series from Friday to Sunday.

The series features races at Kelowna’s Big White Resort and Red Mountain. The following weekend, March 11 and 12, Big White will host the B.C. championships.

Pitman is holding out hope that he will hear his name called for an event bigger event, the junior world championships in Italy next month.

The selections are based on Nor-Am races where both Tommy and Mitch have performed well.

At the January stop at Big White, Tommy was 12th and 17th and posted the third-best result by a Canadian on both days. Mitch was right behind in 17th and 20th spot.

The series traveled to Mt. Hood, Ore., where Tommy was the fifth-best Canadian on both days placing 12th and 15th.

Meanwhile, Mitch posted a pair of second-place finishes during the first stop of the B.C. provincial series in Big White two weeks ago.