Sports in brief: Local skiers on provincial podiums

Nordic, alpine racers earn great weekend results

Youth skiers from the Whistler Nordics and Spud Valley Nordics had another great weekend of races, securing a number of great finishes at the B.C. Midget Championships on Saturday and Sunday (March 3 and 4) in West Kelowna.

The event, for athletes born between 1999 and 2002, saw two-kilometre interval start classic races on Saturday, followed by sprint heats and team relays on Sunday.

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Pemberton's Joe Davies, who skis for the Whistler club, had a perfect weekend as he won both of his individual events in the 2001 group and was part of the winning boys' relay team as well.

Davies's relay team featured 2000-born skiers Michael Murdoch, Fraser Doak and Ian Davidson, and the foursome had the fastest time of all official and unofficial squads.

Murdoch, meanwhile, won Saturday's interval start for his age group and placed fourth in Sunday's sprints. Doak grabbed third spot in the sprint final to follow a fourth-place result from Saturday, while Davidson had top-10 finishes on both days.

In the girls' 2000 division, Benita Peiffer had another great sprint battle with Hollyburn's Maxine Forder and took the silver position, while Whistler teammate Lauren Kilfoy-McKay was fourth.

Peiffer and Kilfoy-McKay had the exact same finishing time on Saturday to tie for fifth position. They were also part of a relay team with 1999-born Whistler skier Julia Long and Hollyburn's Tari Diantree that finished third among unofficial squads. Long's best individual finish was a ninth-place result in sprints.

Spud Valley's Alisa Feuz also had two good days of racing with top-10 finishes in both solo events for girls born in 2000. She joined Pemberton teammates Fiona Davies and Sakura and Kaede Kawano to finish 11th in the girls' relay.

Kaede Kawano skied to eighth in the 1999 division sprints while placing 12th in the classic race. Sakura Kawano was 10th Saturday and 11th on Sunday in the 2001 group, while Fiona Davies managed two top-25 finishes.

Meanwhile, Whistler's David Mehta had a pair of top 15s while Ben Hedpitch had two top-20 finishes in the boys' 2002 races. Spud Valley's Jonathon Rabung-Simeon's best finish in the 1999 group was 14th in sprints. Those three skiers formed a relay team that finished seventh in the unofficial group.

K2s speedy at Panorama

Several Whistler Mountain Ski Club (WMSC) athletes took turns on the podium at Panorama Friday and Saturday (March 2 and 3) during the K2/U16 speed provincial championship races, as the resort's boys and girls combined to win 10 of the 18 medals up for grabs.

Carson Llewellyn and Max Peiffer shared the podium in both of Saturday's boys' super-Gs, as Llewellyn won gold and bronze medals while Peiffer picked up two silvers. In the lone Friday race, Whistler's James Crawford took top spot while Riley Seger finished third, and both skiers went on to top-five results in Saturday's competition.

Alex Gershon had a consistent weekend, finishing fourth on Friday and following with back-to-back seventh-place results on Saturday, while Alex Uryga, Jeffrey Cadman and Cooper Yates were other Whistler skiers with at least one top 10 at Panorama.

Stefanie Fleckenstein won Friday's first girls' race and added another win Saturday, with teammate Mikayla Martin in the runner-up spot for both of those races.

"I really like racing at Panorama because it's a different type of challenge," Fleckenstein said in a club release. "Unlike Ptarmigan, its challenges are on the flats, not the crazy pitches. It adds a new element of aerodynamics that was really fun."

There were no Whistler girls on the podium of Friday's second race, but the club still got strong performances from Esme McTavish in fifth place and Laura Swaffield in seventh. Both skiers finished the series with three top 10s, while Cheyenne Ling placed 10th in Friday's second race.

Twenty-two WMSC K2s have been named to the provincial team that will return to Panorama for the Can-Am Western Championships running March 21 to 24.

Freeskiers shine in junior event

Skiers from the Whistler Freeride Club (WFC) headed to Crystal Mountain, Wash. to compete in the season's first Junior Freeskiing Tour stop last weekend (March 3 and 4) and came back with solid results.

Weather conditions varied throughout the event and many WFC athletes were getting their first taste of big mountain competition.

"I'm so proud of all of our athletes," said coach Derek Foose in a release. "The kids represented Whistler so well. Both the judges and the announcers commented on how impressed they were with the team spirit displayed by our crew. That makes it all worthwhile."

In her first-ever competition, Carlene Loughlin had an impressive fourth-place finish in the girls' 15 to 17 age group. Camilla Loughlin finished 12th.

In the boys' 12 to 14 division, Jackson Bathgate sat first after the opening run with a score of 36.50 but crashed in the finals and settled for 15th. Cooper Bathgate was fifth for the top Whistler finish, while Conrad Murdoch was seventh and Liam Peiffer was 10th. WFC athletes Tom Peiffer, Cal MacConnachie and Mitchell Long were all in the top half of the field after one run and normally would have advanced, but weather delays forced organizers to reduce the Run 2 field size.

No Whistler skiers advanced to the boys' 15 to 17 second run but Sean MacDonald grabbed the last spot in the top 30 while teammate Edi Schreyer was 32nd.

WB to open bike trail from peak

Visitors to the Whistler Mountain Bike Park will have a lot more of the mountain to descend starting this summer, as Whistler Blackcomb (WB) has announced a new trail accessed by the Peak Chair.

WB revealed plans on Monday (March 5) for the Top of the World trail, a technical, single-track trail that will increase the bike park's vertical span by more than 1,000 feet, said a press release.

Starting from the top of the Peak Chair, the trail will wind through Whistler's various "climate zones" and lead into the park's Garbanzo Zone, said the release.

"Top of the World will blow your mind," said bike park manager Brian Finestone. "It takes the flow the Whistler Mountain Bike Park is famous for and drops it on the peak of Whistler Mountain. With some of the world's best riding set against the granite spires of the Coast Range, Top of the World is the pinnacle of alpine riding."

A $15 add-on to a bike park pass is good for one upload of the Peak Chair. The trail is recommended for skilled riders only and access will be limited to 100 people per day, said the release. It is expected to open in mid-July.

Rainy finale to KOTR

The season's last King of the Rail event took place in the cold and rain Saturday night (March 3) but nearly 50 competitors braved the elements to challenge for the crowns.

Dominic Morneau Grenier was Saturday's king and Amanda Webster the queen in the competition held at the Village base of Whistler. Five other category winners took home cash prizes, led by Nathan Terriault in the men's snowboard division.

Other group winners on Saturday were Jordan Innes (men's ski), Elmo Saikkonen (boys' ski 16-and-under), Nozuki Chieko (women's snowboard) and Quinn Dubois (boys' snowboard 16-and-under). Webster also claimed the women's ski division.

This Saturday (March 11) will be the winter's last Telus Park Rider Session, a halfpipe event on Blackcomb that is also a bronze-level AFP competition.

Whistler boys second in Community Cup

The Whistler U11 boys' soccer team had a great run through the North Shore Youth Soccer Association Community Cup tournament come to an end in Sunday's (March 4) final.

The team dominated its way through the tournament bracket and outscored opponents with ease, but were coming off a long layoff and ran into a talented North Shore Blizzard squad on Sunday. Whistler settled for a runner-up finish after an 8-2 loss.

Ian Milley and Luke Haasen scored for Whistler in the final, while the Blizzard selected Taiga Iida as Whistler's player of the game.

Whistler's U12 girls' team was also scheduled to play the Squamish United in another Community Cup final on Sunday at Brennan Park, but the result was not available at press time.

Natural luge camp coming

The B.C. Luge Association will be bringing the sport back to its roots with a natural luge training session at Whistler Olympic Park on March 17.

B.C. Luge coaches will be on hand for the Learn to Luge session, teaching the basic skills of the sport in a setting away from the artificial track.

The event takes place between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. Participants must wear a ski or snowboard helmet and winter boots while gloves and goggles are recommended, but all other equipment will be provided. Contact info@luge.ca for more details.

Circus school arrives in Whistler

The Vancouver Circus School will officially open its new location at the Oros Whistler Gymnastics Centre later this month, said a Friday (March 2) press release.

The school teaches students a number of the circus arts, including aerial skills, static trapeze, juggling and other skills through classes and performance opportunities, said the release.

The school is headed by the father-son duo of Aaron and Travis Johnson. The elder Johnson has previously been head acrobatic coach in Cirque du Soleil productions and the two combined have more than 50 years experience in coaching and competing.

The first classes will start March 19 with a special spring break camp for youth. Visit www.vancouvercircusschool.ca or email Jennifer@vancouvercircusschool.ca for more info.

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