Heading to Purden Ski Village to race for the first time, Max Kirshenblatt wasn't too sure what to expect during the Teck U16 Provincial Championships. As it turned out, the Whistler Mountain Ski Club (WMSC) athlete had nothing to worry about.
Kirshenblatt was crowned the overall B.C. boys' champion when six days of racing wrapped up in Prince George on Saturday, Feb. 22 thanks to a week of strong results.
"I've never skied at Purden Mountain before, so I was going in unsure of what the race hill and snow conditions would be like," said Kirshenblatt. "My goal throughout the whole race week was to stay in a positive mindset, which would help me overcome any adversity or obstacles that crop up during a long series like this one.
"I was able to ski the way that I had been training and achieve the results that I targeted."
Kirshenblatt won four of six boys' races and only finished off the podium once en route to the overall title. He swept the two super-G races that started things off on Feb. 17 and 18, won the giant slalom held Feb. 19, was triumphant in the first of two slaloms on Feb. 21, then added a silver in the slalom staged on the final day. The only time he was outside the top three, he finished fourth in the Feb. 20 GS.
Kirshenblatt's five medals bolstered a total of 14 top-three finishes by WMSC skiers in boys' races over the week of provincials. Also getting in on the podium party was Alexander Valentin, who earned a silver and bronze from the super-G races, plus another giant slalom silver.
Whistler boys won all six races held at the Prince George ski area, as Finn Iles took down a GS victory, and Griffin Renzoni edged Kirshenblatt for gold in Saturday's slalom, swapping places on the podium with his teammate from the slalom the day before.
Asher Jordan and Masashi Tsutsumi each secured one bronze medal during the week, while Kasper Woolley was impressive with four top-six finishes. Kyle Alexander and Griffin Smith also made top-10 appearances during the week.
Valentin ranked second to Kirshenblatt in the race for the overall title, and Renzoni ended provincials as the third-place finisher.
Laura Swaffield's consistency at Purden helped her to a runner-up finish in the overall championship calculations, as she did not finish outside the top five in any of her six races.
"Racing for so many days really tests your perseverance and it was great to spend the week racing with girls from all over the province," said Swaffield. "I had a great time at Purden Mountain and I am very proud of my results."
Swaffield finished third in the first super-G of the week, then posted second-place results in each of the next three races. She went on to place fourth and fifth in the two slaloms that closed provincials.
Whistler's Katie Fleckenstein shared the podium with Swaffield in a bronze-medal finish during the week's second GS. She finished seventh or higher in each of the four technical events.
Gabby Smith also collected a bronze medal, earning hers in slalom, and the WMSC product had five top-10 results during the trip.
WMSC SKIERS HEADED TO JUNIOR WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS
The WMSC once again has representatives at the FIS Junior World Ski Championships, as Broderick Thompson and Ford Swette are both among the 13 skiers on the Team Canada roster that began competing Wednesday, Feb. 26 in Jasna, Slovakia.
Both are making return trips to the junior worlds, Swette heading to the event for a third time and Thompson travelling for his second appearance.
When the event was held last year in Quebec, Thompson finished 18th in the men's slalom for his best result. Swette's best individual finish came in Italy in 2012 when he was 31st in slalom, though he was part of the Canadian squad that claimed a bronze medal in the team event last year.
Wednesday featured a men's super-G and super combined. The event continues until March 6.