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It was a picture-perfect weekend for the U14’s Teck Zone Race on Vancouver’s’ Cypress Mountain. The Cypress Ski Club, along with their efficient ROC, coaches and athletes hosted some fun and challenging SL and GS races. Firm snow conditions made for some fair racing and allowed the usual suspects to reach the podium while some new up and comers made great strides up the results sheet.
In the SL WMSC athletes took three of the 6 podium spots with Alexa Brownlie winning both runs in the ladies’ race for the Gold, Cypress Ski Clubs’ Gaia Fameli was 2nd and Maeve Pretty from Grouse took 3rd. On the men’s side, WMSC’s Felix Shorter took the win, teammate Milan Novak was 2nd and Graeme Eder from Grouse was 3rd.
Sunday’s GS race had an even stronger showing from the WMSC athletes, taking eight of the top ten spots on the ladies’ side. WMSC’s Alexa Brownlie again took top honors, teammate Isabelle Bexton was 2nd and Grouse athlete Maeve Pretty was 3rd. The WMSC men took six of the top ten spots and swept the podium in the process! Felix Shorter took home his second gold of the weekend, Alec Waldrum pulled up from 4th place in the first run to finish 2nd and Milan Novak ended up 3rd.
“Our U14’s represented WMSC very well,” commented Lead Coach Henry Yeigh, “they acted like champions, enjoyed themselves and had a fun time over all. I was impressed with the way our athletes stepped up on a tough hill, especially for Slalom”.
The U14’s next big event will be the Provincial Championships in Purden Mountain, Prince George.
7 WMSC Athletes competed among Team BC for the 2019 Canada Winter Games hosted by Red Deer, Alberta with alpine skiing in Nakiska and Canyon Resorts.
Sunny skies and frigid -25C temperatures greeted team BC in Nakiska to start the Canada Winter Games last week. The event kicked off with a Super G that was described as short and flat with a couple of fun jumps. The short nature of the course (45 seconds) rewarded perfection and any small mistake made a top-10 finish impossible. The BC Team boys struggled with only Grouse Tyee’s big man Taylor Nellis managing to squeak into the top-10 with a 10th place finish. As for the contingent of WMSC boys, David Wood placed 17th, Matthias Shorter 25th, Chase Burns 30th, and Adam Usher had a fast run going but was an unfortunate DNF within a few gates of the finish. After day one team Alberta, Quebec, and Ontario announced themselves as the provinces to beat at the games. On the women’s side, there were 59 competitors, 7 from BC and 3 from WMSC. Our racers had tough competition from our host province and our eastern provinces of Quebec and Ontario as well, who took all top 10 spots. Our WMSC girls fought hard to the finish and all clocked into the top 30, with Jaden Dawson taking 11th, Sara Stiel 21st, and Fiona McInnes 28th.
Giant slalom was on the schedule for day two and the athletes faced a challenging course set on a slope with two very steep pitches separated by a gentle section in the middle. By the end of the day there were only 28 boys finishing in a field of 69 with the finishing pitch seeing most of the DNF’s. It was a physically demanding course with only 4 of the 7 BC boys successfully completing both runs. David Wood had a solid 2nd run and placed 10th, Matthias Shorter 12th, and Adam Usher and Chase Burns were both DNF’s on the first run. BC Team’s Apex Ski Club’s Hemming Sola put in an impressive 5th place in the first run but he was unable to finish his second run. Sola did however give the team reason to be optimistic about a possible run at the podium in the slalom that would be held the following day on the same tough slope. For the girls, 60 competitors lined up in the start gate but only 36 finished the 2 run race. Unfortunately Jaden Dawson and Fiona McInnes were two of the 24 racers who didn’t finish the race. Sara Stiel brought it in for WMSC and successfully put together two strong runs placing her 14th.
Day three of the games brought slightly milder temperatures of -19C in the morning and -8C in the afternoon. Just like the previous day’s Giant Slalom, the steep slope produced a high rate of attrition within the field with race sets that continued to test these top Canadian athletes to a super challenging slalom course. Sola gave the entire BC Team reason to cheer putting two fantastic runs together to take gold. Teammates Chase Burns, Matthias Shorter and Adam Usher also had strong showings finishing 6th, 10th, and 11th respectively. Unfortunately David Wood was a first run DNF but the entire team was ecstatic to finally break the podium juggernaut and show the other provinces that BC skiers know how to ski fast on tough courses. It was nail biting for the spectators to watch as 23 of 60 girls failed to finish the first run. With only 37 competitors starting the 2nd run, it was anyone’s race to win and by the end of run 2, only 23 of the 60 competitors completed the race. Our BC girls were amazing with 5 finishing in the top 12. Jaden moved up 8 spots after her second run taking 6th spot and Sara moved up 8 spots finishing in 11th. BC teammates Noa Rogers and Brynn Applegath made it in the top ten finishing 7th and 8th respectively.
For Fiona, she recalls that, “after each race, emotions were high and I don’t really remember how I felt about my results, but for the most part I was happy with my skiing. After crashing for the second time in the slalom I remember being frustrated with my own skiing but really thrilled for everyone on team BC who did well. Sara reflected that “each race had its own challenges but we would have really benefitted from training on the race hill. Its Alberta’s training hill and Quebec flew out in Dec to train it. We would have benefitted from that as well.The final event of the Canada Winter Games was held at Canyon Resort about 10km outside of Red Deer. If the athletes thought it was cold in Nakiska, they were in for a rude awakening on race day in Red Deer. The venue change was also a big transition for the team as they moved from the swanky confines of the Kananaskis Lodge with 2 athletes per room, to the athletes village in Red Deer where it was 12 boys to a room and one shared bathroom!
The final event of the games was the ski cross and it would be held in -34C temperatures. There was a frostbite warning and the wind chill registered -40C. Fortunately there was a heated staging area where the athletes could find shelter but the slow fixed grip chairlift was a challenge for everyone. The boys battled hard on a course that was described as slow at the top and fast at the bottom but good fun all the way.
Hemming Sola proved he’s one of the fastest ski racers in the country scoring another podium for BC with a bronze medal performance. David and Matthias both made it through the first round of 64 but were edged out in the round of 32. Adam battled hard but bowed out in the quarter finals. Chase did very well to advance and win the small final to take a fantastic 5th place. For Jaden, all she could think about was how fun it was. “We never train or race SX and it was so exciting. At the bottom I gave my competitors fist bumps and we were talking about how exciting it was”. Jaden and Sara skied well but were also edged out in the round of 32.
It was tough competition for the girls and although they realized it was very competitive, they all agreed it was exciting to ski against the top athletes from across the country. It pushed them to skate harder out of the gate and reach further for the finish line. When asked what was it like competing against the top U16 skiers in Canada?, Sara succinctly put it, “I have work to do”. As parents watching, our kids gave it their all and left nothing behind and are proud of their grit during these games.
Conversations with the 4 WMSC boys over the course of the games revealed a common theme. They were all very proud to represent their home province and they were excited to make some new friends from across the country. For the girls, having the chance to meet and become friends with other athletes from across Canada and from other sports was also the highlight and to cheer on BC. For Fiona, "My most memorable experience from the games was the last night after the closing ceremonies. The whole week I was trading pins with athletes and volunteers from around the country trying to get a pin from every province but on the last night people started to trade everything from hats to team jackets and pants.”
Coach Drew Hetherington from WMSC was one of 3 coaches accompanying the BC athletes and he felt the games were anequally engaging experience for coaches as their athletes as they were immersed into the rare world of top level athletic competition due to the incredible settings the Games provided. The amount of production, volunteers, and attention for the athletes was staggering and the conditions for racing were perfect; our athletes only had to put their best efforts in. The competition however, insisted on bringing their A-game as well. After the first day, and some serious rounds of navel-gazing the next two days were much better. Our athletes rose to the challenge and competed well. The experience was very positive and the team gained invaluable experience. They can all go back to their clubs and share lessons learned with their friends.
Some of our athletes’ parents were lucky enough to observe some of the interactions…and know that the entire CWG’s crew of WMSC athletes and parents are fortunate to have some priceless memories to take with them on their journey in competitive skiing and in life. It was a once in a lifetime experience that they will never forget. They wanted to thank all of the coaches, parents, volunteers and organizers who withstood the freezing temperatures of -20 to -30, and supported all of us throughout the week.
Teck U16 Westerns Championships at Panorama Mountain Resort
Race Report by Laura and Hubert Lai
Photos by Dee Dee Lai
Last weekend, the 2019 Westerns Championships were hosted at Panorama Mountain Resort by the Windermere Valley Ski Club. As always, thanks are due to the organizers, coaches, and volunteers for their hard work putting together a great event. Huge thanks are also due to Teck for sponsoring this exciting race series.
The event took place over the course of 3 days, with the team dual slalom on Friday, March 1, the giant slalom on Saturday, March 2, and the slalom on Sunday, March 3.
Windermere did a great job with the events, even in the face of very difficult conditions. Morning temperatures were in the range of -30 to -25 degrees Celsius. Even in the afternoons, the temperatures were only slightly less frigid, with the daytime highs never making it above -15 until late on Sunday.
On the bright side, the consistently low temperatures produced excellent racing conditions, with firm, consistent courses for the athletes.
In total, 70 women and 63 men took part as U16 athletes. The Whistler Mountain Ski Club (WMSC) was represented by 7 women and 6 men in the field.
Team Dual Slalom (Friday):
The team dual slalom was a lot of fun for the athletes. The organizers assembled teams of 4 racers, with each team made up of 2 racers from Alberta clubs and 2 racers from B.C. clubs. This gave the athletes a great chance to mix, mingle, and enjoy the company of fellow racers from all over the West as they worked their way through the elimination tree. Each team was named in honour of a member of the Canadian Alpine Ski Team. At the end of the day, Ali Nullmeyer’s team took first place, with Christina Lustenberger’s team in second and Stephanie Gartner’s team in third. WMSC was represented by Mats Bosinger on Christina Lustenberger’s team and by Johnny Nicolls on Stephanie Gartner’s team.
Women’s Giant Slalom (Saturday):
On Saturday, Panorama athletes Jamie Verhun and Sarah Shephard showed everyone else the way down their home course, taking the top two podium places in the women’s giant slalom. Jasper athlete, Skylar Shepherd, rounded out the podium in third. In a very competitive field, WMSC athletes were shut out of the top 10, with Isabella Cross and Dee Dee Lai producing the best finishes for the club in 28th and 31st, respectively.
Men’s Giant Slalom (Saturday):
The Panorama men were not able to replicate the results of their women teammates. The top place on the men’s podium went to Kananaskis athlete, Gered Thompson. Grouse athlete, Dylan Stevens, took second place and Sunshine athlete, Nathan Sylvestre, rounded out the podium. Three WMSC men achieved top 10 results: Johnny Nicolls in 6th; Sam Fuller in 7th, and Sascha Gilbert in 10th.
Women’s Slalom (Sunday):
Sunday’s slalom course was tough, with only 52 of the 70 starters managing to set times. Calgary Alpine athlete, Sara Paradis, jumped to the top of the podium, ahead of Panorama athletes, Jamie Verhun in 2nd and Sarah Shephard in 3rd. Despite the tough course, all of the WMSC women completed the course successfully, with two of them making it into the top 10: Isabella Cross in 5thand Meagan Doiron in 6th.
Men’s Slalom (Sunday):
The men had an equally tough time with the slalom course, with only 44 of the 63 starters managing to set times. The top place on the men’s podium went to Calgary Alpine athlete, Thomas Binley-Ewing. Kananaskis athlete, Cody Goddard took second place and Snow Valley athlete, Bredy Shears, rounded out the podium. Three WMSC men achieved top 10 results: Johnny Nicolls in 6th; Hayden Harley in 8th; and Duncan Ross in 9th.
Teamship Values – Excellence in Behaviour
As we head into the latter stages of the season and the real nuts and bolts of the competition phase I wanted to take the opportunity to discuss our Teamship Values. Over the next several weeks I will circulate discussion points on each of the 4 values, beginning this week with Excellence in Behaviour. Athletes, please take the time to read these emails; parents please take the time to review them with your children.
We Excel in Behaviour: Behaviour is the core of who we are as a team and reflects on our club, our community, our sport and our country. The fundamental characteristic of WMSC Behaviour is respect.
• We Respect Others: We always treat others as we would want to be treated. We consider the impact of our actions on others. We give full attention in meetings and respect the rights of others to be left alone.
Respect for others defines who we are and what we stand for. It is very easy to get drawn into feeling that we know better than others, that others are not giving us the respect that we deserve or to get caught up in our challenges and not consider those that others have. We all need to choose the higher road and be aware of each other.
• We Respect Feedback: We give, and accept, all feedback – both positive and constructive – with good grace.
Our sport, and life in general, presents many challenges, which will result in mistakes and failures as well as accomplishments and learnings. In order to learn and develop, we must try, accept that we will sometimes fail, and recognize that this process is essential and must be respected. For many of us this is often a challenge, but the ability to both accept and give positive reinforcement and constructive criticism, be it sensory, verbal or visual is the hallmark of all great athletes.
• We Respect Equipment: We care for all of our and other’s equipment. We seek permission before using and promptly return, anyone else’s equipment.
Our sport requires equipment that is both extensive and expensive and the condition of that equipment impacts enormously on the outcomes. We must take the time to learn how to prepare and maintain our equipment and ensure that we follow-through so that our training efforts are not frustrated by a lack of preparation. This respect must extend to the Club’s facilities and equipment, including the Club Cabin, the Garbo Hut, the Dave Murray Training Centre, our home mountain of Whistler Blackcomb and the Clubs, Mountains and hotels that we visit.
• We Respect Time: We are on time for meetings, sessions and departures. 5 minutes before start is on time. If held up we inform the organizer as soon as possible.
“Time is of the essence” in our sport, both literally and figuratively. It is all too easy to reach for the lazy excuse that “I didn’t have time” but more often than not this just means: “I didn’t make the time”. We must budget our time wisely and not waste it. Each athlete must commit the required time to their development model in order to achieve the goals that they have defined. We must always respect the time of others, and value their time at least as highly as we do our own.
• We Respect Effort: We congratulate effort even if it results in better performance than yours. We act compassionately towards those whose performance is below their expectations.
“It’s better to try and fail, than to fail to try”. This statement underpins the very notion of being a champion in life and in sport and is the foundation of the other components of Excellence in Behaviour. If we do not respect the efforts of others, they will not recognise our efforts and help us to our feet when we try and fail. If we do not give constructive feedback to others on their efforts and seek honest feedback for ours, if we do not give 100%, or if we do not properly prepare and maintain our equipment and if we do not commit the required time to the development model, we will never know what we are truly capable of.
It is an honour to be a part of this team and to be associated with so many great people who continually strive for Excellence in Behaviour.
Whistler Mountain Ski Club
In total, 44 U16 athletes took part in last weekend’s Teck Enquist Slalom races, which were hosted at Mount Seymour on Saturday, February 23 and Sunday, February 24. The Whistler Mountain Ski Club (WMSC) was well represented, with 9 women and 8 men in the field.
Mount Seymour was blessed with fresh snow the night before Race 1. The drive up the mountain was long, with many cars unprepared for the road conditions. Once everyone arrived at the mountain, there were many happy faces, as the snow and temperatures were much more pleasant than the minus 20 degree temperatures they had experienced at Kimberley a couple of weeks earlier.
As always, thanks are due to the organizers, coaches, and volunteers for their hard work putting together a great event. Huge thanks are also due to Teck for sponsoring this exciting race series.
The Mount Seymour event consisted of a total of 2 slalom races for each of the men and the women. The races were dominated by WMSC and Grouse athletes, who locked all of the other clubs out of the podium positions.
Women’s Slalom Race 1 (Saturday):
On Saturday, the women faced a tough course, with 6 of the 22 starters failing to post times. Sadly, 3 of those 6 non-finishers were WMSC athletes. Out of the 16 women who successfully completed both of their runs, 6 were WMSC athletes with 5 of them finishing in the top 10: Isabella Cross won the race, with Amanda Miller in 4th, Dee Dee Lai in 5th with a career best finish, Bella Bay in 7th, and Laura Keogh in 10th. Grouse athletes Katarina Kaludjercic and Mila Plavsic rounded out the podium in 2nd and 3rd, respectively.
Women’s Slalom Race 2 (Sunday):
On Sunday, the course was even more challenging, with 7 of the 22 starters failing to post times. Sadly, all 7 of those non-finishers were WMSC athletes. It was a tough day for the club – out of the 15 women who successfully completed both of their runs, only 2 were WMSC athletes: Dee Dee Lai came in 7th and Laura Keogh came in 9th. Grouse athletes swept the podium, with Mila Plavsic, Katarina Kaludjercic, and Nicola Fretenburg taking 1st, 2nd, and 3rd, respectively.
Men’s Slalom Race 1 (Saturday):
On Saturday, the men ran the same tough course that the women had, with the same number of athletes failing to post times: 6 of the 22. Fortunately, only 1 of those 6 non-finishers were WMSC athletes. Out of the 16 men who successfully completed both of their runs, 7 were WMSC athletes with 5 of them finishing in the top 10: John Nicolls came in 2nd, with Sascha Gilbert in 5th, Duncan Ross in 6th, Sam Fuller in 7th, and Kian Gottfried in 10th. Grouse athletes Dylan Stevens and Cameron Seward rounded out the podium in 1st and 3rd, respectively.
Men’s Slalom Race 2 (Sunday):
On Sunday, the men had a little more success than then women, with 5 of the 22 starters failing to post times. Only 2 of those 5 non-finishers were WMSC athletes. Out of the 17 men who successfully completed both of their runs, 6 were WMSC athletes with 5 of them finishing in the top 10. Hayden Harley took a spectacular win, with a winning margin of over a second. The other WMSC men with top 10 finishes were: Duncan Ross in 6th, Sam Fuller in 7th, Logan Sadan in 8th, Ambrose Deck Stang in 10th. Grouse athletes Cameron Seward and Markus Cordy-Simpson rounded out the podium in 2nd and 3rd, respectively.
The U14s had a great weekend of racing, too. The competition in this age category was fierce, with a large field of 46 women and 38 men giving it their all as they navigated the challenging course configurations.
Women’s Slalom Race 1 (Saturday):
WMSC women were dominant on Saturday, with 5 racers placing in the top 10. 1st place was secured by WMSC’s Alexa Brownlie, who was followed closely by teammate Erin Husken in 2nd. Gaia Fameli (Cypress) took 3rd. Other WMSC racers who were in the top 10 with strong finishes were Isabelle Bexton in 5th, Sarah-Elizabeth Whalen in 6th, and Ella Kaufmann in 10th.
Women’s Slalom Race 2 (Sunday):
Sunday’s podium featured the same racers as on Saturday, and in the same sequence: Alexa Brownlie came in 1st, Erin Husken was in 2nd place, and Gaia Fameli finished 3rd. This was a nail-bitingly close race, as teammates Brownlie and Husken crossed the finish line fewer than 0.1 seconds apart! Consistency was the theme amongst the other top 10 finishers from WMSC, who just like Saturday were Isabelle Bexton, Sarah-Elizabeth Whalen, and Ella Kaufmann, this time finishing 6th, 9th, and 10th respectively.
Men’s Slalom Race 1 (Saturday):
Felix Shorter (WMSC) was in a class of his own on Saturday, finishing more than 3 seconds ahead of his 2nd place teammate, Jack Thomas. Rounding out the podium in 3rd was Graeme Eder (Grouse). There were two other WMSC athletes in the top 10: Alec Waldrum came in 6th, and Dylan Boyd finished in 10th.
Men’s Slalom Race 2 (Sunday):
Felix Shorter owned 1st place on Sunday, with an impressively convincing victory that was more than 2.5 seconds ahead of Grouse’s Graeme Eder, who came in 2nd. Milan Novak joined his teammate Shorter on the podium with his 3rd place finish. Three other WMSC competitors placed in the top 10, with Jack Thomas in 4th, Alec Waldrum in 7th, and Joseph Gibbons in 10th.
After two days of hard and exciting slalom racing, the overall winners of Enquist were WMSC’s Alexa Brownlie (U14) and Cameron Seward (U16) of Grouse. Congratulations to all!
Race Report by Laura and Hubert Lai
Photos by Laura Lai