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Canada takes back the Whistler Cup title

Four podium finishes on the final day of competition earned Team Canada the coveted cup



Canada reclaimed the coveted U16 Whistler Cup title Sunday on the final day of competition.

"I'm really excited," said Nigel Cooper, Alpine Canada's manager of athlete development. "I think the Japanese, the Italians, and the Norwegians represent a good part of some of the best skiing nations in the world. Overall the field through to the top 10 is pretty strong, so I think that our top three girls and boys on Team Canada really strutted their stuff."

Canada won the Whistler Cup, presented by Rio Tinto Alcan, four out of five years prior to 2012 but lost the title to Switzerland last year, so reclaiming top honours was particularly sweet for a determined team skiing in front of a home crowd.

Amelia Smart, 15, of Invermere, B.C., was presented with the Nancy Greene Award, which is given to the top overall Canadian girl who accumulated the most points over three days, while the Dave Murray Award for the top Canadian boy went to Jack Crawford, 15, of Toronto, Ont, who trains with the Whistler Mountain Ski Club.

In the U14 category, Brianna MacDonald, of the Osler Bluff Ski Club, was presented with the Nancy Greene Award for top overall female, while Iles earned the Dave Murray Award. Japan took top overall honours as a nation in the U14 category.

Racers with Team Canada received a generous helping hand from the Nik Zoricic Foundation to help offset some of the costs of attending the event.

Nik Zoricic, a talented young racer and a member of the Canadian ski cross team, passed away following a crash at a World Cup race in Grindelwald, Switzerland last year. Zoricic's family has since set up the foundation in his memory, and chose to help support young Canadian racers at the Whistler Cup.

"We thought it would be nice for these kids to know who he was," said Bebe Zoricic, Nik's father. "This is a way for us to keep his legacy going, and at the same time help these young athletes on the (Whistler Cup) national team to feel special.

"Nik himself competed in the Whistler Cup four times, and he always had a great time and made great memories . . . it's a special place to be, and we'd like to support it as much as we can," Bebe added. "Our goal is to enable athletes who maybe can't afford things to be able to attend camps and have those opportunities. They are the future of racing."

More to come.