The Whistler Freeride Club (WFC) has set the bar for the 2015 freeski competition season after returning from the Canadian Open Freeskiing Championships last week (Jan. 21-24) with a total of eight podium results between the 29 athletes, including the top spot in the senior boys and girls (15 - 18 year old) categories.
Tom Peiffer was ecstatic after winning the senior boys and achieving his first national-level podium, flanked by his friends Jackson and Cooper Bathgate who placed second and third, respectively.
“It’s just super nice to finally get up onto the podium beside all the boys, it feels really good,” said Peiffer after the long drive home from Rossland on Sunday. “We’re best friends and it’s super awesome to have that support behind you. I’d be just as happy to be second and have one of them above me.”
Conditions over the four days started with powder, but turned to rain with warmer temperatures, akin to the conditions that the WFC has been training in for much of the season so far. Peiffer said control and fluidity was where he accrued the big points over the two days of qualifying and finals.
“The judges weren’t really looking for us to send it off a cliff,” he said. “It was more how you could link turns smoothly at the venue, super solid skiing rather than how much air time you could get.”
Carlene Loughlin had competed at Red Mountain twice before and took first place two full points ahead of her closest competitor.
“I was pretty darn excited,” said Loughlin. “I was nervous after my run. Everyone’s always hard on themselves afterwards, but I was so excited when they called my name for first. This is my last year competing (as a junior) so I’m a bit more relaxed and just having fun. I think that worked in my favour.”
Olivia MacNeill was well on her way to win after scoring the highest points of the junior (12-14 year old) girls, unfortunately crashing on her finals run, but still managing a third-place finish. Pemberton’s Troy Rozsypalek scored third in junior boys with Rhys Higgins placing fifth. Two WFC boys also competed in the 7 - 11 year old category, with Lachlan McNeil managing third and Dane Jewett fifth.
Head coach Derek Foose could not have been happier with the results, kicking off the 2015 competition season with a bang.
“I’m so proud of our team,” said Foose. “We worked hard going into this, on ski technique and the ability to inspect a line and then actually sticking to the thing you inspected. It’s not easy to do when you’re nervous and excited.”
Foose said the teamwork by the Whistler squad also contributed to the strong results with communication keeping all the athletes up to speed on the changing conditions throughout the competition days.
“I can’t overstate the importance of the team atmosphere,” said Foose “We had kids radioing coaches at the top to describe the snow conditions and certain sections of the lines. Having that communication from the athletes that have already skied, it’s awesome for the guys that have yet to come. The kids are focused and disciplined, that kind of team dynamic that we have, you don’t see that much of.”
The WFC will be heading to Fernie Feb. 19 - 22 for the Jeep Junior Freeski Competition, part of the National IFSA Junior Events series. The team will also be competing on home soil in March for the GoPro Junior Freeski Challenge.
For full results head to www.canadianfreeskiing.com.