Pemberton's Benjamin MacLean, an alumnus of the Whistler Mountain Ski Club, edged a little bit closer to the World Cup circuit this week, winning a gold medal in a Pontiac GMC Cup giant slalom race in Banff.
On the steep Mt. Norquay course, MacLean had a strong second run to win his first GMC Cup event. Earlier in the week he went off course in the slalom and first giant slalom.
"Finishing my races has been my biggest challenge this year," said MacLean. "Today I just told myself to keep going, to keep fighting. To get the victory here is a big stepping stone for my career."
Jack Gower of Britain took the silver medal. Cory Canart of Banff was third after posting the fastest first run of the day.
Several other Whistler athletes took part and made it into the top 15. Daniel and Philip Kwong were 10 th and 11 th respectively, Spencer Morris was 13 th and Ford Swette 15 th .
The top WMSC skier in the women's event was Sofi Leroux, 17 th .
In the GS the previous day Ford Swette placed fourth, Daniel Kwong was 11 th and Spencer Morris 14 th .
The WMSC's Kailee Darlington led the women's team on the first day in fourth place, just 0.14 seconds back of the podium. Teammate Elyse Timoshenko, who races for Australia, was sixth, Jocelyn Ramsden was seventh and Sofi Leroux 15 th .
The week got underway with two slalom races. Ford Swette was seventh in the first event, while John McIver placed 16 th .
On the women's side Jocelyn Ramsden was seventh and Kailee Darlington 12 th .
The next day Daniel Kwong was fourth in the second slalom. Teammate William Konantz was sixth, Spencer Morris seventh and Philip Kwong 11 th .
Jocelyn Ramsden also came close to the podium, finishing in fourth place.
Whitney recovering from Europa Cup crash
Whistler's Victoria Whitney may race again this season, despite a huge crash at a Europa Cup in Italy in mid-January.
"I made a pretty good attempt at tearing myself in half and managed to tear my core, my groin, partially tear/strain my ACL, get a bone bruise on the bottom of my femur and possibly compress or rotate my L4 vertebrae," she said.
Still, despite the laundry list of injuries Whitney managed to carry the Olympic torch last week, and she plans to be back on snow soon.
Whitney was named to the national development team this year and so far has had a season of ups and downs. She placed third in the Nor-Am Cup downhill at Lake Louise in December and has another bronze medal from a GMC Cup race in Panorama.
She has also piled up a sizable number of DNFs, but it's not something she is too concerned with.
"My DNFs this season have all been when I have really been going for it," she said. "For the most part is has been good runs before (the races). But I need to figure out how to minimize mistakes and stay on my feet. You can't just take it easy so you don't crash, but there has got to be a happy medium. (American skier) Lindsay Vonn has found it, and is consistently fast."
Whitney has also had her share of injuries lately. Two seasons ago she underwent surgery to repair a knee injury. She missed most of the following season, but worked hard to get back up to speed.
"It was not a problem at all until this latest crash," said Whitney. "But rehab is going really well and I hope to be getting back on snow soon. I have been doing lots of physio and am in the gym every day."