The Whistler Nordics Ski Club got their season off to a strong start on Sunday (Dec. 3), at the first Teck Coast Cup race of the season.
Hosted by North Vancouver’s Hollyburn Cross Country Ski Club at Whistler Olympic Park, the race drew over 140 athletes to take advantage of the early season snow.
“It was a great turn out — lots of kids,” said Tony Peiffer, president of Whistler Nordics. “The weather was like a Godsend.”
Whistler Nordics athlete Tyler Thuma had a great day of racing, finishing first in the bantam boys event, while clubmates Joe Davies and Michael Murdoch battled for the top spot in the junior men’s race, with Davies opting to race skate-style and Murdoch sticking with his classic skis.
“Both men skied incredibly strong, with Joe ending on top,” Peiffer explained. “They both worked hard.”
On the women’s side, Marlie Molinaro finished second in the juvenile girls event, while Mila Wittenberg placed first in the junior girls race. Lucie Colin and Benita Peiffer took the number one and two spots, respectively, in the junior women’s field.
“All in all it was a great little first round for the club,” Peiffer said.
Conditions in the Callaghan Valley have been optimal in helping the skiers get ready for race season, as well. “It was only a week ago that Frozen Thunder, which is in Canmore, still only had a (one)-kilometre loop,” Peiffer said. “We’ve been somewhat blessed in the fact that we have lots of snow, which is great. Last year, the kids were on snow nine months of a year.”
Sunday’s Teck Coast Cup race also served as a beneficial warm up for some of Whistler Nordics’ more competitive skiers. A handful of elite athletes from the club — nominated as the best small club in Canada last year — are busy preparing for next week’s races, where they’ll compete for official points. They’re heading to the interior for the first stop on this year’s NorAm circuit, taking place at the Sovereign Lake Nordic Centre in Vernon, B.C., followed by another NorAm event in Rossland the following week.
“All these athletes had a great showing preparing themselves for the NorAm next week,” Peiffer explained. Sunday’s race at Whistler Olympic Park “is more of a corridor race, versus next week, (where) there’s going to be 450 athletes... It’s a big deal,” Peiffer said.
When it comes to these larger, more elite races, “I think the objectives for most of the kids is to try and get as many points as they can, which will elevate them in a whole bunch of different areas. The bottom line is that we want these kids to enter in races that mean something. The NorAms in Sovereign, as well as Rossland, all these pre-Olympic races — because you still have some kids who are trying to qualifying for the Olympics — it’s quite good. You get good points when you race against good athletes,” Peiffer said. “They’re all strong kids and they’ll do as well as they can.”
The Whistler Nordic Development Centre’s (WNDC) biathlon athletes also posted some successful results on race day, with Kaede Kawano and Larissa Black following their Whistler Nordics, peers to place third and fourth respectively, in the junior women’s race.
WNDC’s Ryan Elden, Andrei Secu and Kieran Marchand also represented the development centre, taking all three podium spots in the junior men’s event, while teammate Angus Tweedie captured the open men’s/master’s division win.