NEWS

Sochi Hopefuls Lose Snowboards On Air Canada Flight

01/15/2014 05:30 EST | Updated 03/17/2014 05:59 EDT
Two Australian snowboarders, Tim Laidlaw and Declan Vogel-Paul, and their coach have lost their snowboards on an Air Canada flight that arrived in Montreal's Pierre Trudeau International Airport Monday. 

The Sochi hopefuls were headed to the International Ski Federation​ Snowboarding World Cup, at the Snowboard Jamboree near Quebec City, in hopes of qualifying for the Olympic games.

To qualify for the Australian Olympic snowboard slopestyle team, athletes must have had a top-three finish at an International Ski Federation World Cup, or another similar qualifying event. If there are additional spots available, athletes ranking in the top 30 world-wide may qualify. 

So far neither Laidlaw nor Vogel-Paul has achieved that standing. But both hoped to reach that goal in the competition that begins Friday.

The three men were travelling on and Air Canada flight between Denver and Montreal, before continuing on to Quebec City. When they arrived in Montreal, they realized their snowboards hadn't made it.

Their coach, Jarrod Wouters, says the snowboarders can't borrow equipment. "It's like a professional golfer trying to use rental clubs," he says. "Each board is quite different. It's not really that simple." 

Wouters says the airline has told them the boards should arrive this evening but he says they're not confident as they heard the same promise yesterday. He says one of the athletes will already have missed a practice sessions that could jeopardize his chances during the competition.

In a written statement from Air Canada, spokesperson Isabelle Arthur says the airline is focusing on getting their equipment to them as soon as possible.

"We are very sorry for the delay and have had exchanges with them through social media since last night when we immediately started tracking down their snowboards," says Arthur. 

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