Cline first, McIvor third in pro category
The Saab Salomon Crossmax Series wrapped up in Whistler last week as part of the Telus World Ski and Snowboard Festival.
As with all the other events, the weather wasnt perfect. Over the course of the day, the competitors raced through periods of snow, fog, high winds, and flat light, punctuated by a few clear patches towards the end of the day. For most of the racers it was one gate at a time, and pay close attention to the squiggly lines of food colouring lining the course.
Given these challenges, you have to hand it to the racers for pushing themselves and one another as fast as they could go although the more than $30,000 in cash and prizes up for grabs probably helped as well.
Some 124 pro and amateur athletes took part in this event, with 76 competing in the age categories.
The course was significantly longer than most of the athletes were used to and a lot more difficult as well, with huge rollers, jumps, cork screws, double pumps and offsets thrown in to keep things interesting.
The pro womens category was particularly awesome for Whistler and Canada, with Aleisha Cline of Squamish and the Whistler Freeride Team taking first place, and Whistlers Ashleigh McIvor finishing third. Second place went to Anik Demers of Lac-Beauport, Quebec.
With the win, Cline, 32, successfully defended her Saab Salomon Crossmax title, as well as her win in the X-Games this year.
"The competition was awesome," she said. "This is one of the races Im most excited about."
Eric Kalacis, the event director had nothing but praise for Cline.
"Cline just keeps on winning skiercross events and is virtually unstoppable."
McIvor, who is just 19 and in her first year racing skiercross, gave it her best shot anyway and almost took the title herself.
"I had beaten Aleisha in the time trials and in the semi-finals, and was right up with her in the finals," she said. "We were even coming into a tight corner, we collided, and she got up quicker than I could. By the time I got to my feet, (Demers) passed me, and I was basically out of it. I was really trying to win."
McIvor says the course favoured her style of skiing. A serious prospect for the national ski team at one point, McIvor says the technical course was to her advantage.
"I go pretty smoothly into the turns. Aleisha has a better start, but I was able to pass her around the turns in the semi-finals.