Sports briefs: Whistler biathlete, coach to represent Canada on Junior Cup Tour

Also in sports briefs: WSS boys basketball win opener, ski jumping coming to WOP

A Whistler-based biathlete and coach have both been selected to represent Canada on the International Biathlon Union (IBU) Junior Cup Tour.

Biathlete Gillian Gowling and coach Jess Blenkarn will kick off the season in Europe as the IBU Junior Cup series commences this week. Gowling joins the best under-21 biathletes from across the world as she prepares to compete on the development circuit.
Gowling, a member of the Whistler Nordic Development Centre, and Blenkarn, Sea to Sky Nordics’ head biathlon coach, will compete on Canada’s national junior team for the first two IBU Junior Cup events, set to take place in Obertilliach, Austria from Dec. 8 to 10, followed by a second Junior Cup event in Ridnaun, Italy from Dec. 14 to 16.

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This will be Gillian’s first national team assignment and her first international competition, after qualifying for the tour at the National Team trials in Canmore from Nov. 7 to 10. This year has marked Gowling’s first as a Whistler Nordic Development Centre athlete. She began training at the centre after relocating from Canmore following her graduation from high school.

“I am really excited about being selected to represent Canada on the Junior IBU Cup,” Gowling said in a release. “This is the first time that I have qualified for this circuit so I am pumped to be able to have the chance to race against competitors from all over the world at two wonderful venues overseas!”

Blenkarn was selected by Biathlon Canada’s High Performance Working Group to be the tour lead. In addition to two other coaches and wax technicians, Blenkarn’s role entails providing support to the seven athletes representing Canada on the tour.

This will be Blenkarn’s second international assignment with Biathlon Canada, following a trip to the Youth/Junior World Championships and an IBU Cup last season. “I am excited to return to Europe for Biathlon Canada again this season,” she said in a release. “The IBU Junior Cup circuit is a great development circuit for our young athletes on the pathway to the senior national teams, and the ability to compete against the world’s best in Europe is great experience for athletes, coaches and wax technicians alike.”

Both Gowling and Blenkarn will return to Whistler to compete in trials for the second IBU Junior Cup tour of the season. Hosted by the Whistler Biathlon Society, that event is set to take place at Whistler Olympic Park Jan. 4 to 7. For more information, visit whistlerbiathlon.com.

Whistler boys basketball win season opening tournament

The Whistler Secondary School (WSS) senior boys basketball team emerged victorious in their season-opening exhibition tournament, held in their home gym on Saturday (Dec. 1).  

They successfully held off all three opposing teams to defend their 2016 title and lock in an undefeated day on the court. The final game saw a rematch between the Storm and fellow 2016 finalists Rockridge Secondary, resulting in a winning score of 58-39 for WSS.

Several Storm players were recognized as player of the game throughout the day, including centre Ian Davidson, guard Ben Shuster, point guard Masashi Kai and shooting guard Garrett Riley.

The regular season got off to a slightly rockier start for the senior boys. They lost their first regular season game last week, though they’ll have the chance to play St. Thomas Aquinas again on Monday (Dec. 13) in North Vancouver.

Whistler Olympic Park hosts international ski jumping event  

Whistler Olympic Park is gearing up to host the largest ski jumping even it’s seen since the 2010 Olympic Games.

With FIS Cup Ski Jumping set to take place Dec. 7 and 8 and FIS Continental Cup Ski Jumping on Dec. 9 and 10, the Callaghan Valley facility will see more than 100 ski jumpers from over 20 nations compete.  

Spectator access to the jumps is free with a valid park pass for spectating only (no trail access), costing $15 per vehicle, a ski or snowshoe day ticket, or with a Ski Callaghan/Winter Olympic Park winter season’s pass. Whistler Olympic Park’s full-service Day Lodge will open on all training and event days, with food and drinks available at the Day Lodge restaurant. For a full event schedule, go to www.whistlerslidingcentre.com/events.

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