By Andrew Mitchell
After winning the recreational category of the Lie Link Randonee Rally in Whistler a year ago, local ski patroller Melanie Bernier followed the event to its new digs at Sunshine Village this past Saturday to compete in the pro category. She drove out with Andy and Mike Traslin, former Whistler residents who are now living in North Vancouver.
Bernier placed second overall to one of the top American competitors, but edged out some more experienced racers in the technical descents. Andy and Mike were third and ninth among the men.
The Randonee Rally series is an alpine touring competition where competitors skin up, traverse and ski down a course that tests their fitness and skills in the backcountry.
The course at Sunshine was particularly challenging — up to Wawa Ridge to the top of the Continental Divide Express Chair, down delirium Dive, up the Eagles over the treeline, down to the base of Goats Eye, up Goats Eye, down one run, back up Goats Eye and down another run. The course had over 1,300 metres of climbing, all at an altitude over 2,000 metres.
“I was more looking at the time than anything, and see how I stood up with the other girls,” said Bernier. “The top American was a machine, she was so far ahead, which tells me how much I need to train and what I need to do to get to that level. It was also good to see how I compared to the other girls, who have been competing two or three years. I finished 10 to 15 minutes ahead of some of them, which is a good sign.”
Bernier says her main advantage was on the descents, which were technical and on hard-packed snow. “A lot of people have a background in cross-country, but my background is more skiing in those kinds of conditions so I caught a lot of people that way.”
Bernier is planning to enter a contest in Nelson at the end of the month, as well as the Backcountry Jam during the Telus World Ski and Snowboard Festival.
With enough points, and strong results at the national championships, she can qualify for the Canadian team and go to the world championships.