The Olympics have ended, the World Junior Championships are finished but the season still goes on. We are now in the last few weeks of the 2001/02 racing season but there are still some big races left, such as the Pontiac GMC Canadian Championships.
This past week I was able to spend some time with the juniors who were competing for Canada at the World Junior Championships, which were held in Tarvisio, Italy. Originally the races were scheduled to be in Narvik, Norway but due to a shortage of snow at the deadline time the races had to be moved to a different area. Tarvisio didnt have much snow either, just enough to run the races. Oh, and a lot of rain.
My brother, Michael, was at the races competing for Canada with six of his teammates. In total from the Whistler area, between the men and women athletes, there were four racing at the championships: Scott Hume and Manuel Osborne Paradis of the B.C. Ski Team, Christina Risler of the womens National Development team and Michael Janyk of the mens National Development team.
As my mother had decided to travel over to Europe to watch the races I thought that I would also go to the races, seeing as though most of my races were being cancelled because of bad weather. The chance to spend a week with my mom doesnt happen very often so I took the offer. And of course now I am able to give you, my local readers, the full report on the races.
Throughout the whole week it rained almost every day and the fog would not lift, making for very difficult racing conditions. But this is the sport of alpine skiing, you cant control Mother Nature and she doesnt always co-operate with the racing schedule. The Whistler Weasel Workers understand this part of the sport. If you schedule a World Cup downhill in Whistler, the fog and snow will come!
Almost all of the races ran as scheduled over the week, except for the mens giant slalom. Unfortunately this year there isnt a junior champion in this event.
At the end of the week our junior squad did walk away with some top results. On the womens side Kelly Vanderbeek from Kitchener, Ontario had a fifth place finish in the downhill and a third place finish in the super G race, while Christina Risler had an 11 th place finish in the super G.
The men had two top 15 finishes, both coming from the super G. Michael Janyk finished ninth and Cameron Barnes from Canmore, Alberta finished 13 th . In the mens slalom race, Paul Stutz from Banff just missed the top 15 and finished 16 th .
Our team that competed in Tarvisio was a strong group of racers and many of them still have a few more years at the junior level to improve on these results. Kelly Vanderbeek and Christina Risler are also currently in contention for some Nor-Am titles, which would give them World Cup spots for next season.
Our development group is a very important part of the national team because they will be our future World Cup team. They are the ones who will take us to the 2010 Olympic Winter Games.
Coming up this week on the schedule is the World Cup Finals in Flachau, Austria, where Allison Forsyth and Genevieve Simard will look to move up in the standings in the technical events.
But the most important event coming up for the locals in Whistler is the Pontiac GMC Canadian Championships, which will be held on Whistler Mountain. The downhill training runs start on the 11 th of March and the first race is on the 14 th . The week ends on the 20 th with the technical events. All of the national team members and top young racers from across the country will be in town to compete to try and be national champions. So I expect to see some support out there. Bring out the cowbells and all the noise makers; a lot of encouragement is always a good thing. You can find all of the racers on the Dave Murray Downhill run. Hope to see you out there, and bring the good weather.