A pair of Jacks proved to be the winning combo at a Western Ski Cross Series stop at Sunridge Ski Area in Edmonton earlier this month.
Jack Morrow and Jack MacDonald, both part of the Whistler Mountain Ski Club, had winning weekends with a back-and-forth effort to top the podium in both season opening races.
MacDonald finished first in Saturday’s U16 races, with Morrow following him into the second spot on the podium. Morrow came back to earn the gold in Sunday’s events, while MacDonald claimed the silver.
The top results felt good, MacDonald said. “It definitely boosts my confidence for the rest of the season, getting a look at all of the other opponents, and just getting a head start on the points is also a good thing for the overall placement for the season. It was a really fun race and I’m just looking forward to the next one to come.”
The win was especially meaningful for Whistler’s Morrow, who was back competing for the first time since breaking his humerus — on his dominant arm, nonetheless — during a race in Lake Louise last February. “I went into my second-round heat and I just caught my edge on a gate right before a jump and sort of went off sideways and flew straight onto my left shoulder,” he remembered. “It was very cold so it was really hard snow.”
Despite a long and at times painful recovery process, “it feels pretty normal now,” Morrow said.
“I didn’t feel too bad since I’ve been playing hockey (with the local midget A2 team) since the start of this year already and hadn’t felt any problems with that — especially with hitting and stuff, as well. I was feeling pretty confident going into (the race) and trying not to keep it in my head once I was racing.”
What was in Morrow’s head during the second day of races was the extra incentive provided by his second-place result the previous day. “I didn’t ski my best, I don’t think. I knew that I could get it after so I just pushed hard for Sunday,” he said.
And while the two are “really good friends,” a healthy dose of motivation to one-up each other makes racing side-by-side all the more fun, MacDonald added. “Because we’re so close together and racing together all of the time, it definitely pushes each other to try our best and out-compete the other guy, because we’re just so competitive with each other,” he said.
Aside from that competitive push, both boys also credited the recently built ski cross start at the Dave Murray Training Centre with giving them each a hot start out of the gates.
The Sunridge event featured a particularly short course, making good starts all the more valuable, Morrow explained. “Once I got out in front I think it was just good control,” he said. “I don’t usually have the greatest starts. I’m better once I’m working in the actual course. It was a challenge to get that dialled down from training.”
The strong starts gave both skiers an edge as they battled frigid temperatures and an icy course, MacDonald added.
“The snow there was definitely much different than Whistler. It was much colder, so we had to get used to those conditions,” he said. “There were a lot of Sunridge kids there who ski there every weekend, so it was definitely difficult to brave out the conditions. It was like minus 30 (degrees) the first day — it was really cold, so that was definitely a challenge.”