More than 325 alpine athletes aged 12-15 raced in the U16/U14 Western Canadian Championships last weekend at Silver Star Mountain Resort.
“Mother Nature gave us some challenging conditions’, said Vernon Ski Club president Murray Smith, a former Team Canada downhiller. ‘But thanks to the more than 90 volunteers each day and the expertise of Silver Star’s grooming team, we pulled off about 1,800 race runs pretty much on schedule.”
Besides the racing, many visiting coaches said a huge highlight for their athletes was hearing Josh Dueck’s story at the Saturday night banquet. The former Vernon freestyle coach overshot a demonstration jump in March 2004, breaking his back and leaving him a paraplegic. Dueck, 36, won silver and gold medals at the Paralympic Games in Sochi, Russia as well as a silver medal at the 2010 games in Vancouver.
In the U14 category at Silver Star, racers ran two Slalom and one Giant Slalom (GS) race. Natasha Jones led Vernon in the field of 70 racers, posting two eight-place finishes in each of Giant Slalom and Slalom. Sydney Wilson placed 13th and 22nd and Ella Mills snagged 25th and 27th in the Slalom races.
Jamie Robinson was 29th in Giant Slalom and 26th in Slalom. Some ladies had tough start positions and did well, with Grace Sebulsky 38th and 37th and Lauren Clancy 34th and 42nd in Giant Slalom and Slalom respectively. Erica Peasgood finished all races with a best of 48th in Giant Slalom while both Peasgood and Ellie Tupper found a 50th in Slalom.
The Vernon U14 boys, who also competed in a field of 70 racers, were led by Chris Kersey with two slalom finishes of 17th and 19th. Nolan Williams was the lone U14 male to finish all races with 21st and 30th in slalom and 23rd in giant slalom. Austin Armanini found a 39th placing in Giant Slalom while Carson Minshull, out much of the season with an injury, posted 46th in Slalom and 48th in GS.
In the U16 women, 80 racers skied one Slalom and two GS races. After breaking a collarbone training late December, in the GS Makena Kersey posted a 14th and a 9th result, including a speedy sixth second-run performance. After failing to finish the first GS race, Rane Smith had her best performance of the weekend in the second race with a 12th. Nadia Jones had a 28th in her best GS race. In the Slalom, Smith, Kersey and Jones were 21st, 25th and 35th, respectively.
In a field of almost 100 U16 men, Gerrit van Soest finished his weekend with two fourthes, one in each discipline. Van Soest’s results earned him a position on Team Canada for Whistler Cup April 13-16. Caele Kassa found top-15 twice with a 10th in GS and a 12th in slalom. Andrew Schmidt had solid showings with a 31st in Slalom and a best of 58 in GS, while Ken Anderson, the lone first-year U16 male, placed 74th in his best GS finish.
While the local ski season is over, many VSC athletes will be joining Van Soest at the Whistler Cup over Easter weekend plus attending April training camps in Sun Peaks and Whistler. In early May, 13 VSC athletes will start conditioning for next year in the School District 22 Snowsports Academy and the whole team will participate in other sports.
For more information on the Vernon Ski Club’s race and all mountain programs, contact Andrew Lambert at firstname.lastname@example.org.