After putting their skills on display at home, Riley Seger and Mikayla Martin will lead a group of Whistler Mountain Ski Club (WMSC) U16 athletes hoping to do the same abroad in a few weeks.
Martin captured the Parsons Trophy for a second consecutive year, while Seger won another for his household as the local club hosted the Bob Parsons Memorial Super-G and provincial championships Friday and Saturday (Feb. 15 and 16) at the Dave Murray National Training Centre on Whistler.
Seger finished on the podium in all three boys’ races, taking third spot in both super-Gs held Friday before earning the victory in Saturday’s finale.
“I felt like I skied pretty well,” said Seger. “After Friday, coming third, I felt like I had to step it up a bit for Saturday. I just went for it and it all kind of worked out.”
Seger said the victory had some extra significance for him since older brother Brodie, now a B.C. Ski Team member, won the Parsons Trophy himself back in 2010.
“It means a lot, especially winning after my brother, who won it three years ago,” he said. “And it wasn’t easy, with Jack Crawford being first on Friday and Cameron Alexander in second — it’s really awesome to be on the podium with your teammates.”
Crawford and Alexander provided the WMSC’s other podium finishes in boys’ racing on the weekend. Crawford won both Friday races, but fell back to eighth place in Saturday’s action. Alexander picked up a silver medal in the Saturday race following a fourth-place showing on Friday.
Several more local boys were solid at home, including Max Peiffer, who didn’t reach the podium but finished top-five in all three races. Max Kirshenblatt showed consistency with three consecutive top 10s, while Cooper Yates and Carson Llewellyn also appeared in the top 10 on the weekend.
This year’s age group shift meant that Martin had another year to go after the Parsons title, and she took full advantage by winning both girls’ races. She shared the podium on Saturday with teammate Stefanie Fleckenstein, the only other Whistler skier to hit the top 10 both days.
“I skied well and I’m happy with the way I skied on the weekend,” said Martin. “That amazing training arena that we have up there definitely helps, and we did have the home turf advantage and I like that.”
And Martin likes being back on snow more regularly, as her season got off to a slow start when a knee injury sidelined her for the first few weeks of the winter.
“Then I came back around Christmas and got frostbite, so that kept me out another two weeks,” she laughed. “So I don’t have that much training under my belt, to be honest.”
The WMSC’s Esme McTavish managed a fourth-place result in Friday’s race, and Sarah Kapur joined the top 10 for Saturday’s super-G.
Two girls’ races were originally scheduled for Saturday, but foggy conditions and course holds eventually made it impossible to finish the second race on time.
Team headed to Italy
It’s been several years since Canada was represented at the Topolino — the biggest and longest-running international youth ski race in the world. But the WMSC is sending its own roster of 10 skiers from the U16 team to this year’s 52nd annual event in Italy on March 8 and 9.
Seger, Crawford, Peiffer, Llewellyn, Alexander and Yates will make up the boys’ team headed over, while Martin, Fleckenstein, McTavish and Kapur fill out the girls’ squad.
WMSC executive director Nigel Loring said sending the skiers over will not only be great for their development, but also to raise the profile of the Whistler Cup, the only major international youth race in North America.
The team will only be allowed to have three skiers of each gender race in the Topolino, and the club will hold its own time trials upon arriving in Italy. However, Loring said Topolino organizers have already invited the four skiers that are ultimately held out of the race to act as forerunners.
The group of 10 skiers, who all turn 16 this year, already has tremendous international experience from past Whistler Cup experiences, but Martin expects things to be a little different over in Europe.
“I think the races over there will be a little more competitive and I think it’s going to be a great experience,” she said.
After three podium finishes over the weekend, Seger feels like he can now head to the Topolino with a little bit more poise following a frustrating start to the season.
“The first race (on Friday) was just my second finish all year, so it really meant a lot to get some more finishes in and build up my confidence,” he said.
Before Italy, the whole U16 team will travel to Panorama for the U16 Can-Am Western Championships, which run Feb. 28 to March 3.