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Whistler athletes take three banked slalom wins

Six podium placements overall at Mount Baker event

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Sara Niblock found a little redemption at the Legendary Banked Slalom at Mount Baker earlier this month.

After some challenges in the pro women division in 2016, where she fell on both her runs, the 32-year-old entered the masters division this year where she powered to the win.

"It's a lifelong goal to win the (Mount) Baker Banked Slalom. It feels pretty awesome," she said. "It was redemption, being able to stay on my feet and put a solid run in."

Niblock explained she switched up her gear during the qualifiers after she locked down her position, a change that ended up making a big difference.

"Friday, I took it a little bit mellow just to stay on my feet on a smaller board that I felt more comfortable on. I just put a safe run in and I qualified in fourth," she explained. "On Saturday, I had already qualified, so I switched to a bigger board and went as hard as I could to see if I could stay on my feet going 100 per cent and I did. That gave me the confidence, and I had the fastest time on Saturday.

"Since I did really well on Saturday, I had the confidence to just go for it on Sunday (with the bigger board.)"

Niblock plans to compete at Sun Peaks and Big White later this season.

Whistler representatives swept the junior category, with Finn Finestone capturing the boys' title and Juliette Pelchat earning the girls' win.

Finestone, who finished third the previous two years, was thrilled to break through and find himself on top this time around.

"I was kind of nervous. I just kept quiet, but said in my head, 'Do it fast' and I made it happen," the 13-year-old said.

Finestone explained he preferred this year's course, which wasn't as long as in previous years, but still kept its challenging elements.

"Compared to last year, I really liked it because they shortened it up this year," he said. "They made it as gnarly, and really fun when you got through the middle... I definitely liked the middle section. It was not as steep but had really high corners and was really flowy."

Though Finestone competed at the banked slalom at Big White last year, he doesn't think he'll return in 2017, making the Legendary Banked Slalom his lone event of the year and meaning he'll remain perfect this season.

Pelchat, meanwhile, also came away with a win at Mount Baker in 2016, though she was facing younger competitors. She admitted feeling some nerves before her run, but worked to overcome them.

"I was talking to myself and trying to concentrate," she said. "I was really nervous because I stepped up a category into juniors, but it was also thrilling at the same time."

Pelchat added that like Finestone, she really enjoyed the course.

"It was super flowy and fun and when you went around a corner, it was like happiness," she said.

Other podium finishers from Whistler were: Amalie Pelchat (silver in next gen girls); Maggie Crompton (bronze in junior girls) and Anthony Shelly (bronze in next gen boys).

Full results are available at lbs.mtbaker.us/index.php/results/2017-results.

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