Whistler skier Chelsea Henitiuk will skip the FIS Freestyle World Ski Championships in order to recharge for the final events of the World Cup moguls season.
Henitiuk finished 21st in both moguls and dual moguls at Inawashiro, Japan, on Saturday and Sunday (Feb. 23 and 24), making it five straight events in which she’s been held out of the top 20.
The 25-year-old said it’s been a frustrating past month as she has struggled to return to form following a calf muscle tear suffered in mid-January.
“I’ve been having a bit of a hard time getting back into competing after my injury,” Henitiuk said Tuesday (Feb. 26) after returning home. “My skiing is coming back together, but I’m making small mistakes on all my runs that’s keeping me out of the finals. I’m confident that it’s going to get back there, but it’s taking longer than I would have hoped.”
Despite some tough results over the past few weeks, Henitiuk said that getting a chance to compete in the test event at Sochi earlier this month was a great experience as she continues her quest to qualify for next year’s Olympics.
“In that aspect, it was a really good trip,” she said.
The world championships opens on Monday (March 4) and run until March 10. The World Cup schedule will resume in mid-March with events in Sweden and Spain to wrap up the season.
Top 10s for Brousseau at worlds
Whistler sit-skier Caleb Brousseau netted a pair of top-10 finishes at the IPC Alpine Skiing World Championships, which wrapped up Wednesday (Feb. 27) at La Molina, Spain.
Brousseau’s top finish came in the men’s slalom, in which he placed seventh. The 24-year-old also managed a ninth-place result in the downhill to go along with an 11th-place finish in the super-G. Brousseau was unable to finish the giant slalom and combined races.
The event was set to conclude with team event racing on Wednesday, but results were not available at press time.
Gymnasts get great start
Athletes with Whistler Gymnastics kicked off their competitive season with great results at the North Shore Invitational, which ran Feb. 15 to 17 in North Vancouver.
Caleigh Lamont led gymnasts in the Level 2 Novice (12- to 14-year-olds) group by taking the all-around title, buoyed by gold medals on the vault and beam. Right behind her in the overall was teammate Hannah Peatfield, whose best finish was a silver on the vault. Caitlin MacConnachie’s gold in floor exercise helped her to third in the all-around.
Hailey Jackson placed second in the all-around standings in Level 3 Tyro (10 to 12) competition thanks to a first-place finish in vault and a silver on the beam. Gabby Flynn had an impressive performance with gold medals on the bars and floor, plus a vault bronze.
Jennifer Lafreniere was the top Whistler athlete in Level 2 Tyro (2001-born gymnasts), finishing eighth in the all-around. At the Level 1 Tyro (2002-born), Ayva Spierings finished sixth overall with a balance beam bronze while teammate Amy Ertel won the floor exercise.
Mali Ricard’s 10th-place finish was Whistler’s best all-around result in Level 1 Argo (8 to 10) competition, with a silver on bars and bronze on the beam. Kaila Lafreniere was one spot behind her following a bronze on the floor.
Athletes in the older age groups will be looking to earn entry into the provincial championships when competing at the Langley Invitational, which runs March 8 to 10.
Youth skiers hit podium
Some of the Whistler Mountain Ski Club’s (WMSC) youngest racers tasted success on the slopes at Mount Washington over the weekend with great performances in Nancy Greene Ski League competition.
Maja Woolley led the U12 girls with a dominant showing, winning all four events — slalom, speed, kombi and jump. She was clocked at 75 km/h to take the speed title and shared first in the jump with teammate Rosie Smith when both flew 32 feet from the takeoff point.
Smith also earned a bronze in kombi and a silver in the speed event. Arabella Ng was second in the slalom and tied fellow WMSC skiers Cate Melenchuk and Kristen Kranjc for third in the jump. Paris Boucher also grabbed a speed silver.
In U12 boys’ events, Nathan Romanin returned from a scary-looking slalom crash to win the kombi and take silver in the jump and speed contests. Eric Smith flew 40 feet to take the jump gold, while also adding a gold medal for speed and a silver in kombi. Whistler’s Tait Jordan earned a bronze in the slalom.
The club’s U11s were also strong, led by bronze-medal outings from Lauren Van Vliet in the girls’ speed event and from Freya Jumonville in the kombi.
On the boys’ side, Ethan Shandro collected four medals from four events, capturing silvers in speed and kombi to go with third-place finishes in slalom and the jump. Skylar Beauregard and David Lee tied Shandro for silver in the speed trap, while Beauregard captured another silver in slalom.
Local lugers medal in Calgary
B.C. luge athletes showed their continued improvement earlier this month by recording a number of podium finishes during the Youth Canada Cup race held Feb. 17 in Calgary.
Whistler’s Reid Watts finished in the runner-up spot of the youth A men’s race, while Pemberton’s Nicole Pidperyhora finished third in the girls’ event.
At the youth B men’s level, it was a Sea to Sky sweep of the podium with Adam Shippit, Nicky Klimchuk-Brown and Lucas Gabauer-Barrett finishing one-two-three.
All the youth D men’s medals came west as well, led by Matthew Susko in first place. Brendan Shippit and Garett Reid were second and third, respectively.
The athletes will act as hosts for their next big race, as the Youth Canadian Championships will take place March 9 at the Whistler Sliding Centre.
Canada wraps up with Sochi bronze
The Canadian luge team finished off their World Cup season on Sunday (Feb. 26) with a bronze-medal finish in team relay on the new track at Sochi, Russia, where the discipline will be an Olympic medal event for the first time next winter.
Germany took the win while Russia grabbed silver on its home track as the Canadian foursome of Sam Edney, Alex Gough, Tristan Walker and Justin Snith placed third.
“We learned a lot about potential track conditions, equipment decisions and also where we individually have to improve our sliding,” said Edney. “Overall, we felt great walking away with a medal.”
It was the fourth World Cup relay medal of the season for Canada, which also claimed silver at the world championships in Whistler at the beginning of February.
The doubles duo of Walker and Snith also had reason to be encouraged after finishing fourth in their race. They sat second after the first run but fell off the podium with a slow second session.
Gough ended her season with a sixth-place women’s singles finish, while Edney was 25th in the men’s singles event.
Quick times in KVRS
Blackcomb’s snow cross track welcomed racers last Thursday (Feb. 21) for the most recent instalment of the Kokanee Valley Race Series — a terrain giant slalom contested by more than 40 skiers and snowboarders.
The fastest of two runs was used to determine each competitor’s time. At 50.83 seconds, Tenney Wilkins set the fastest time overall to win the men’s 50 to 59 age group.
A few others were able to clock in under 52 seconds, including Ken Pedersen, who topped the men’s 30 to 39 division at 51.25. Michael Noc’s second run (51.96) put him atop the 40 to 49 class.
Other men’s winners included Nickolas Wetaski (19 to 29), Butch White (60 to 69), David Trussler (70 to 79), Thomas Hooley (snowboard) and Gavin Christie (telemark).
Janine Linder-Joris finished in 54.77 to set the fastest women’s time and win the 50 to 59 race. Grace Oaks (70-plus), Kristi Hirsh (30 to 39) and Sarah Colpitts (19 to 29) captured the other women’s divisions.
The series resumes Thursday (Feb. 28) with a super-G on Whistler Mountain.