Ford Swette’s silver lining at the FIS Junior World Alpine Ski Championships was a bronze medal in the team event, won in front of thousands of screaming Canadian fans.
The Whistler Mountain Ski Club product was part of the Canadian crew that knocked off Austria in a match-up deciding third place at Quebec’s Mont Ste. Anne on Saturday night (Feb. 23), taking the podium finish on aggregate time after the countries were tied at 2-2 on the parallel slalom course.
“It was amazing,” Swette, 20, said on Monday (Feb. 25). “There were more people there than I could imagine. I really went into it with an open mind, thinking that whatever happened, I’d be happy with, but it turned out pretty well. We all skied well and it definitely was nice to be able to win in Canada … considering all the people we had here.”
Swette and teammates Trevor Philp, Tianda Carroll and Mikaela Tommy beat out the American squad in the first round of the 12-nation team race, then topped France in the quarter-finals. They managed to tie Switzerland in the semifinals, but were narrowly eliminated from gold-medal contention on time difference. The Swiss ended up falling to Sweden in the final.
Swette, currently ranked second on the Nor-Am Cup circuit in giant slalom, said racing the parallel event required a big adjustment since he’d done little slalom training in the weeks leading up to the event.
“I was a little worried about how I would perform because I hadn’t been on those skis in a while,” he said. “But that’s part of the game and I came out, skied really well and adjusted really quickly.”
Following the team success, Swette was left frustrated on Monday when he didn’t finish the giant slalom, his lone individual race of the event. He took too aggressive of a line over a roll in the course and wound up going through a gate rather than around it.
“I’m not going to lie — I was pretty rattled, and I don’t get rattled very easily. I don’t let stuff bother me, but today, I was skiing well and for me to just make a mistake like that…,” said Swette, who was competing at the junior worlds for the second year in a row.
“I hadn’t put any thought into not finishing, so what happened today was a big shock.”
Whistler skier and fellow B.C. Ski Team member Broderick Thompson overcame a downhill crash at Le Massif, where speed events were held, to close out junior worlds with a top-20 result in Tuesday’s (Feb. 26) slalom. Thompson earned the last spot in the second run by placing 30th on the first leg and skied a solid second session to move up to 18th.
“I’m happy with that. It’s a pretty good accomplishment,” he said. “It was a pretty awesome experience racing with some of the top guys. Seven of them have scored World Cup points this year, so it was cool to see how I stacked up against them.”
Thompson, who was on Canada’s team for worlds for the first time, faced tough conditions on Tuesday — more than half of the field was unable to complete the first run.
“It was pretty rough out there today,” he said. “It was a fight to finish the first run, so I was pretty happy to make it down … and getting to start first on the second run was pretty nice.”
Though he didn’t complete the downhill, Thompson did manage to place 50th in super-G.
Pemberton’s Charley Field was also making her first appearance at junior worlds and finished with top-40 results in both speed disciplines. She finished 37th in Saturday’s women’s super-G and placed 39th in the downhill on Tuesday.
Seger wins national title
Whistler Mountain Ski Club athlete Brodie Seger recorded back-to-back podium finishes at the U18 National Championships at Ontario’s Georgian Peaks this week, closing out the event with a GS victory on Tuesday.
Seger’s win came on the heels of a second-place finish in GS the day before, as well as a fourth-place result in slalom on Saturday.
Fellow local product and B.C. Ski Team member Blake Ramsden had a consistent week, finishing eighth both slalom races while also finishing sixth in Tuesday’s GS.
Among other top local finishers, Marc Leroux was 11th on both days of GS, while Austin Llewellyn and Charlie Renzoni were both in the top 15 on Saturday.
Kelly Steeves was the top local skier in both giant slaloms, highlighted by a fifth-place finish on Tuesday. She also placed eighth on Monday.
B.C. Ski Teamer Emma King’s best finish was sixth in the event-opening slalom. She followed that with two more top-15 finishes during the week at Georgian Peaks.