Whistler welcoming top J1 skiers

Locals heading into weekend races with string of good results

Charley Field picked a good time of the year to go on a roll, particularly if she's able to keep things going on her home mountain this weekend.

Field finished up the latest series of Miele Cup races with a win at Red Mountain on Feb. 28, her fourth victory of the year, and will look to carry that momentum into the Canadian J1 National Championships, which start today (Thursday, March 8) and run until Sunday (March 11) on Whistler Mountain.

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The Pemberton resident is one of three B.C. Ski Team members and 23 Whistler Mountain Ski Club (WMSC) athletes overall who will be competing in nationals, which start with super-Gs over the first two days and wrap up with technical races Saturday and Sunday.

Since the calendar flipped to 2012, Field has been outstanding. She's picked up two wins in super-G and two in giant slalom, plus three other top-five finishes in Miele Cup action since the beginning of January.

"I'm really happy with how I'm skiing," Field said Monday (March 5). "Red Mountain went pretty well. I racked up some good confidence there and going into these races I think it will go well."

Field, who turned 17 on Sunday (March 4), said she's achieved the recent run of success by not looking too far ahead and with good mental preparation.

"Thinking into the future kind of makes me nervous, so when I take things day-by-day it just helps me focus on that day and to do my best," said Field, who added that she has her sights set on top-five results in super-G and GS this weekend.

Fellow B.C. Ski Team member and Whistler product Emma King is also going into J1 Nationals with a number of good results obtained over the past several weeks. She won the Feb. 26 slalom at Red Mountain and also took second step on the podium in one of Field's super-G victories at Apex in early February.

On the boys' side, the WMSC's Brodie Seger is having a solid year for the provincial team and said he was able to learn lots during the B.C. squad's trip through Europe in January.

"It was a really good experience for me," he said. "The competition in Europe is a lot different from here and it was great to see what it's like over there. I wasn't skiing my best when we were there but it definitely made an impact."

Seger has regularly appeared on the J1 podium of Miele Cup races this season and had a couple of top-five results overall during the Apex series. The 16-year-old said he'll be gunning for podium finishes this weekend.

"I'm feeling pretty good," he said. "I'm really glad because this is going to be my first FIS race on my home hill. I'm excited."

As for the rest of the WMSC athletes who will compete at home this weekend, the club's FIS-level head coach, Ryan Jazic, said he likes what he's been seeing from his skiers.

"A lot of things have been going well. The last two races in particular have been very, very solid," said Jazic, who's been seeing very good performances out of first-year J1s lately. "I think they're just getting more experience, getting used to the level of competition and how hard they have to start pushing it."

Kelly Steeves is among the group of first-years that have started to find recent success. The 15-year-old took second at Red Mountain in the Feb. 28 GS to share the podium with Field and earn the first top three of her short FIS career.

"The races are a bit different - starting at the back wasn't the most fun for the first races," Steeves laughed on Friday (March 2) when describing the jump from the K2 level. "It's been going fairly well this season, but I just put it all together last weekend, which makes me more confident that I can do it again at nationals."

Jazic said he's hopeful that skiers from the club can come through with some top-five and top-10 results on the weekend. Other Whistler boys to watch this weekend are Blake Ramsden, Jake Allison, Ben Bethune, Julian Brumec-Parsons, Sam Kirshenblatt, Marc Leroux, Austin Llewellyn, Dalton Pehota, Charlie Renzoni, David Sepulveda, Rory Thies and Kyle Yates.

For girls, the WMSC will also be represented by Rachel Vander Veen, Rae Swette, Celeste Pomerantz, Alysia Kwong, Elizabeth Kepl and Akio Kato.

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