The first win can be the trickiest to get out of the way.
Pemberton's Adam Shippit got his first FIL World Cup Youth A men's victory taken care of at Whistler Sliding Centre last Thursday (Dec. 4). And thanks to a rare doubleheader to open the season, Shippit nabbed his second two days later to give him a major advantage in the overall standings with two of six races completed.
In the first race, Shippit posted a two-run combined time of one minute, 17.850 seconds (1:17.850) for a margin of victory of 0.298 seconds over Whistler's Matt Riddle. In the second, a 1:18.097 showing secured him the win by 0.193 seconds over Whistler's Reid Watts.
Speaking after the second race, Shippit said both days of competition were fairly different because of changing weather conditions. Saturday's freezing rain and slightly warmer temperatures made the track a touch more forgiving, he said.
"The ice conditions were a bit different since it warmed up a bit," he said. "The ice conditions were a bit softer today (Saturday), so I could just make more mistakes if I needed to.
"There were a few mistakes, but overall, it was a good change."
Shippit said having the two races back to back was helpful for him.
"There was some stress on me to repeat what I did last race. But it was good, I handled it well," he said. "I had to ignore the fact I won two days ago and just get back on it and make it like it was a brand-new race."
Shippit has 200 points, giving him a 45-point lead over Watts and leads of 69 and 70 points respectively over Riddle and Squamish's Nicky Klimchuk-Brown. Watts was boosted by a bronze on Thursday and a silver on Saturday, while Riddle took Thursday's silver and Klimchuk-Brown won Saturday's bronze to complete a double Sea to Sky sweep of podium. Klimchuk-Brown was also fourth Thursday, while Riddle struggled through Saturday's second run to finish seventh.
Watts wasn't thrilled with the showing in his first race, but like Shippit, was pleased with how he handled the "grippier" ice the second time around.
"I had a couple really good runs and came second," Watts said.
Riddle, meanwhile, was pleased overall with the weekend where he was loose overall. He chalked up his frustrating final run to an overly aggressive approach.
"Sometimes, when you go too hard, you're too tightened up and you're tense," he said. "You want to be really relaxed and I was way too tense, hit a few walls."
The World Cup chase will continue Dec. 15 and 16 in Park City, Utah before heading over to Europe for the final three artificial track races of the year, as well as four natural track events.
While Shippit has built a cushion on one of the circuit's faster loops, he knows there's still plenty of work to be done on less-familiar tracks to secure a title.
"The other tracks, you only get seven runs on them compared to the thousands of runs I've had on this track. That's not much to learn a new track," he said.
Shippit wasn't the only local athlete to come home with gold from the event. In the Youth A doubles event, Watts and Riddle came first in the four-team field on Thursday, besting the other local team of Klimchuk-Brown and Lucas Gebauer-Barrett by 0.663 seconds. Calgary's doubles team of Evan Wildman and Heath Karpyshyn took bronze.
Watts and Riddle had the times to win another gold Saturday, but they, as well as Klimchuk-Brown and Gebauer-Barrett, were disqualified for carrying too much weight. Wildman and Karpyshyn took the only medal awarded that day, as the Ukrainian duo of Roman Radchenkov and Orest Sobota did not finish its second run.
In the Youth A Women's event, Calgary's Kyla Graham took home bronze medals both days. Meanwhile, Pemberton's Nicole Pidperyhora narrowly missed the podium, finishing fifth on Thursday and fourth on Saturday, reversing spots with the only other Canadian, Calgary's Brooke Apshkrum. On Thursday, Russians Olesya Mikhaylenko and Yulia Naumova won the gold and silver, respectively, before switching positions Saturday.
Pidperyhora explained she was able to tweak her approach, with a more aggressive start and a more confident finish, just enough to move up a spot on Saturday.
"I couldn't have done any more than I did. I had two solid runs, and you've got to take what you get," Pidperyhora said after Saturday's runs. "My first run today, it just seemed to all come together. It was really smooth. It always could have been better, but it was a good run."
She was appreciative of the opportunity to compete on her home track, especially as several competitors had never seen it before practice runs for these races.
"It was cool to be the leaders. Everybody was watching us," she said. "It was really weird, but it was really cool."
In the Junior Women's event, local competitor Jenna Spencer finished 10th in both competitions Friday and Sunday. While she was ultimately disappointed with her results on her home track, she was proud of how she performed.
"I had really good runs, so I couldn't really ask for more. I'm not happy with my result, but I'm happy with how my sliding was," she said. "My position was super strong, even when I had problems. I didn't give up on simple things like rolling and things that get you time. I was actually really happy.
"I think I had a good race. I'm not saying I had a good result, but I think my race was alright."
In the same division, Calgary's Rachel Klassen was eighth on Friday, improving to seventh Sunday. In order, the medallists were GermansJessica Tiebel, Saskia Langer, and Julia Taubitz on Friday, and Taubitz, Tiebel, and Russia's Victoria Demchenko on Sunday.
In the Junior Men's event, Calgary's Greg Doucette was the lone Canadian, finishing 11th Friday and ninth Sunday. In order, the medallists were Australia's Alex Ferlazzo, Germany's Sebastian Bley, and Russia's Roman Repilov on Friday, and Bley, Repilov, and Germany's Paul-Lukas Heider on Sunday.
No Canadians competed in the Junior Doubles events. On Thursday, the medallists, in order, were Russia's Stanislav Maltcev and Oleg Faskhutdinov, Germany's Florian Loeffler and Manuel Stiebing, and Russia's Evgeny Evdokimov and Alexey Groshev. On Saturday, Germany's Nico Semmler and Johannes Pfeiffer won gold, followed by Evdokimov/Groshev and Loeffler/Stiebing.
After the individual competitions were held Sunday, a new team sprint event took place with Russia (2:04.923) taking gold, Germany silver (+0.108) and Austria bronze (+0.479). Canada's team of Riddle, Watts, Klassen and Shippit, meanwhile, took fourth (+0.842). The event combined times of one double, one men's and one women's racer.