It wouldn’t be a Whistler event without a little weather, and participants in the 2006 Sierra Wireless Whistler Cup saw a lot of different weather in their three days of competition, including some sunshine. Still, the competition courses held up through anything Mother Nature had to offer as well as the record turnout of athletes.
Over 400 athletes representing 21 nations took part, while Canada made another strong showing with athletes earning three podiums and placing in the top-10 of almost every race.
Day 1 – K2 Super G, K1 Kombi
The racing got underway Friday with the K2 (ages 13 and 14) super G. On the women’s side Karin Nagy of Austria took the gold medal in 1:16.49. Germany’s Raphaela Hartl was second in 1:17.58, while Mirjam Puchner, also from Austria, picked up the bronze in 1:17.68.
"It was a great race and a very good course," said Nagy, whose parents made a last minute decision to come to Whistler to watch the action. "I’m happy to win today in SG because my best discipline is usually slalom. I have big hopes for tomorrow in slalom."
The top Canadian was Karelle Bouchard of Quebec in ninth place with a time of 1:18.72. Whistler’s Brynne Benbow was 10th in 1:19.21.
Austrian and German racers claimed gold and silver again in the men’s super G, with Frederic Berthold of Austria winning in 1:14.25, and Dominik Schwaiger of Germany following up with a time of 1:14.48. Johan R. Haakonsen of Norway was third in 1:14.71.
Ontario’s Richard Long, the K2 national champion, was the top Canadian in fifth place, less than a second out of first place with a time of 1:15.14.
While the K2s were racing super G the K1 racers (ages 11 to 12) were in a kombi event which combines elements of all four alpine disciplines, from tight slalom turns to tuck and go downhill sections, into one race.
Whistler Mountain Ski Club program director Nigel Cooper decided to add it to the program this year after seeing a kombi race at the juvenile series in Trofeo Topolino, Italy this year.
"We’re basically calling on all the skills kids require in any ski race," said Cooper. "The FIS decided in its children’s committee level to create an event that the kids themselves might create if you asked them to draw a course in the snow. The idea is to make it a little fun, but it’s a race as well, it’s against time and you start and finish just like a ski race."
The WMSC’s Kailee Darlington showed she has the skills to compete anywhere, earning a silver medal in the Kombi behind Ula Hafner of Slovenia. Valentina Volopichkova of Czech Republic was third.