Sports briefs: Strong start to luge season for Spencer

Pemberton teen earns bronze at first Junior World Cup race

Pemberton's Jenna Spencer returned to the Junior Luge World Cup podium on Friday (Dec. 7), finishing third in the youth women's division of the series opener at Lillehammer, Norway.

Spencer, who earned a bronze medal at Igls, Austria, as a Junior World Cup rookie last winter, was 0.671 seconds back of the Russian winner to start the 2012-12 campaign with another top-three finish.

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"Training was, for the most part, successful. I made mistakes and learned from every run with the help of the Canadian and Austrian coaches," said Spencer, who was sliding at Lillehammer for the first time, in a release. "Being on the podium was a goal but not expected, so I did shock myself a bit."

The 16-year-old will race this weekend at Königssee, Germany, where the second stop on the circuit takes place Friday and Saturday (Dec. 14 and 15).

Good results for lugers

Sam Edney recorded his best finish on a European track on Sunday (Dec. 9) while fellow Canadian Alex Gough was just short of her third-straight bronze medal to start the World Cup luge season.

Edney finished sixth at Altenberg, Germany, the same location where he placed seventh at last winter's world championships.

"Altenberg and I have a thing and it gets better every year," Edney said in a release. "It felt good to finally get the result I knew I was capable of all year. I really needed this result going into our Christmas break because it motivates me and I will be able to carry that over into the New Year."

Gough, who raced Saturday (Dec. 8) at Altenberg, was the only non-German in the top five of the women's race. She was on track for her third-straight bronze to start the year, sitting third after the first run, but was pushed off the podium on the second leg, finishing .105 seconds out of the medals. Kim McRae had the next-best Canadian finish, placing 11th, while Arianne Jones was 17th and Jordan Smith was 21st.

The doubles tandem of Tristan Walker and Justin Snith matched a career-best at Altenberg by finishing sixth, having placed seventh in each of the first two races.

The national luge team is forgoing the fourth World Cup stop in Latvia, instead opting to train in Whistler ahead of the world championships that will be hosted here in February. The athletes were expected to being training at the Whistler Sliding Centre Thursday (Dec. 13) and remain in the resort until Monday (Dec. 17).

B.C. Luge recruiting

The B.C. Luge Association is hosting a recruitment camp for athletes aged eight to 14 on Saturday (Dec. 15) at the Whistler Sliding Centre between 4:45 and 5:45 p.m.

The association is also hosting a Family Luge Night on select Mondays through the winter, the first ones taking place on Jan. 7 and Jan. 14 from 4 to 7 p.m. The cost is $50 per slider, available to B.C. Luge Association members. Family memberships cost $25.

Visit www.bcluge.ca or email admin@bcluge.ca for more information about either event.

X Games adds slopestyle event

The new X Games event taking place in Munich, Germany, next year will include mountain bike slopestyle for the first time, event producer ESPN announced Monday (Dec. 10).

The broadcaster announced a handful of new events that will be featured during X Games competition at the three host cities selected for global expansion earlier this year.

An ESPN article announcing the new disciplines said the slopestyle course will be set up on a hill next to Munich's Olympic Park that is used for World Cup alpine ski races. The Munich X Games are scheduled for June 27 to 30.

Freeride Mountain Bike World Tour president Todd Barber said in an email that it is unclear if the X Games stop will be included on the tour schedule or exist as a standalone event.

Play pickleball

It's part tennis, part badminton, part ping-pong, and you can try the growing sport of pickleball in Pemberton during an open house at the community centre on Thursday (Dec. 13).

École de la Vallée-de-Pemberton principal Michel Tardif said the school has purchased pickleball equipment that will be loaned to and used at the Pemberton Community Centre. They'll be breaking out the new gear and demonstrating the sport during Thursday's event, taking place between 4 and 7 p.m.

Pickleball is played on a badminton court with a net height of three feet, with players using hard paddles to play a wiffle ball back and forth. The game's popularity has grown significantly, particularly with youth and seniors, since its invention in Washington in the 1960s.

Volleyball teams solid in tourney

Squamish played host to the annual Sea to Sky Elementary Volleyball Tournament on Friday with Whistler and Pemberton teams recording a number of great finishes.

The Myrtle Philip Community School girls' squad finished second out of 14 teams, falling in a competitive final match against Garibaldi Highlands Elementary. Teams from Signal Hill Elementary School and Spring Creek Community School finished third and fourth, respectively.

In boys' play, a crew of older Myrtle Philip students reached the semifinals and placed third, while a second team of younger schoolmates finished fifth out of 11.

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