Fifteen-year-old Katie Fleckenstein wasn’t having her best week of racing at Purden Ski Village, the venue for alpine events at the 2015 Canada Winter Games.
After two top 10 finishes in Super G and Giant Slalom and a DNF in Slalom last week, she redeemed her efforts on the ski cross course by winning the gold medal.
“It was such a cool experience,” said Fleckenstein the day after she returned to Whistler from Prince George. “I was so excited. So many people came up to the mountain that weren’t in the games just cheering B.C. on. It was pretty cool to have everyone’s support.”
Fleckenstein, who represented B.C. last year at the Whistler Cup, qualified with the fastest time on course with 1:02.14, a full two seconds faster than fellow B.C. teammate Nicole Mah. After entering the elimination rounds with confidence and winning all her heats, she faced Mah again in the final.
“The first three races were fine, but in the final (Mah) was gaining on me the entire course,” said Fleckenstein. “Afterwards we saw the photos of us coming over the last pitch and she was just slowly creeping up on me and over the finish line, her hand was at my boot. So that was a close one.”
Having done minimal ski cross-specific training this winter — just a two-day camp in January —Fleckenstein was pleasantly surprised after seeing her qualifying time and winning the gold, but said her focus will remain in alpine racing.
“I was going to keep on doing alpine and if there are more ski cross events around, I’ll do them,” said Fleckenstein. “I just really like alpine and it’s kind of like one or the other now. There’s a whole different series of races and they overlap. I’ve come this far with alpine, I might as well keep going on this track.”
While she was hoping for better results in her alpine events at Purden, Fleckenstein knew exactly where she was having trouble on the course. In the GS race she was placing first in the first and last interval, but was losing time in the middle section of the course.
“It went into a steep side hill, which I couldn’t nail, every time I would lose a bunch of speed there,” she said. “It just got me. I skied (at Purden) at Provincials last year and didn’t have a good time on that pitch.”
The rest of the Whistler Mountain Ski Club ski team had an equally tough week in the alpine events competing against some of Canada’s finest youth ski racers. Asher Alexander Jordan managed a fourth place in the GS, Ella Renzoni came in eighth in GS, Kasper Woolley finished in fourth in Slalom and 10th in GS and Kyle Alexander came in ninth in Ski Cross.
In the freestyle events, Sofiane Gagnon, who won two bronze medals last week for big air and slopestyle, narrowly missed the podium, placing fourth in both the moguls and dual moguls events.
For more information and full results on the Canada Winter Games head to canadagames2015.ca.