The top juvenile racers in the world from age 11 to 14, representing 21 different countries, face off in Whistler this weekend for the 10th annual Sierra Wireless-Air Canada Whistler Cup.
For many Canadian skiers, its their first exposure to international competition. A number of World Cup racers, including Whistlers Britt Janyk, Nanaimos Allison Forsyth, Fernies Emily Brydon, and Genevieve Simard of Val-Morin, Quebec, have competed in the Whistler Cup.
"Not too many kids in North America get to experience the European feeling of what ski racing is all about," says Michael Janyk, Britts younger brother and a strong prospect for the national team next season. "Even if they dont get to that level, at least theyve seen what the world of ski racing is really like. Its something they can remember as they work their way up through FIS and the Europa Cup circuit."
While Michael says he "sucked" in his Whistler Cup appearances, his best finish in a race being 13 th , the experience helped him to take his own skiing to the next level. "It makes you work harder when you finish behind these other guys, and when you see how hard they work."
For Britt, who travelled with Canada to Trofeo Topolino, Italy, to compete in the International Childrens Races, the Whistler Cup was not her first international experience, but she says that every international race is important at that stage of a skiers development.
"At the level Im at now, Im in Europe for most of the year because thats where the racing happens, thats where you have to go to get to the top. Not everyone was lucky enough to go to Italy, so the Whistler Cup races give that European experience to a lot of Canadian and American skiers who wouldnt otherwise have had the opportunity," says Janyk.
More than 300 racers are competing in Whistler this year, many with World Cup dreams of their own. A number of local racers will be taking part, as well as the top juvenile racers from across Canada.
Whistler Cup Schedule
Friday, April 5
Noon to 2 p.m. K2 (ages 13 and 14) Super G
Saturday, April 6
Noon to 2 p.m. K1 (ages 11 and 12) Giant Slalom, K2 Slalom
Sunday, April 7
Noon to 2 p.m. K1 Slalom, K2 Giant Slalom
T.B.A. Awards Ceremony in Whistler Village by gondolas