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Whistler Mountain Ski Club eager for 2019-20

Sports briefs: National Training Centre lands naming sponsor; Whistler Secondary rugby team wraps season

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The mountains aren't officially open for another couple of weeks, but the Whistler Mountain Ski Club (WMSC) is gearing up for the 2019-20 campaign.

WMSC executive director Mark Tilston said the club recently enjoyed its kickoff weekend full of off-snow preparations to get skiers ready for the season.

"It's our second year that we've had our kickoff weekend, had the whole club together under one roof," he said. "We had a sports psychologist come and I think he gave some good messaging to parents and to athletes, so it was a great day."

While registration numbers held steady overall for this season, Tilston said the stability is coming from retaining older athletes, with boosts to its U18 and U21 programs, rather than an influx of younger skiers. He feels there are some impressions of the club that it's working to correct.

"There's a belief that our programs are mainly ski-racing-based," he said. "There's a perception that they never get to go freeskiing or big mountain skiing, but that's not the case."

In terms of in-season events, Tilston noted that while Alpine Canada recently signed an agreement to re-launch the Nancy Greene Ski League, the club will not participate, continuing to use its own programming. However, that programming includes an event with a Greene moniker as the long-running U12 Nancy Greene Skills Event will run once again on Jan. 18.

"It's something we're trying to promote and we generally have a great turnout from the Whistler Blackcomb programs, from our own U12 programs, as well as athletes from Grouse Tyee," he said.

For more information on the ski club, visit www.wmsc.info.

National training centre lands naming sponsor

Nearly five years after the project was first announced, the Freestyle National Training Centre has landed a naming rights sponsor.

Gemini Trust Company, founded by Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss, have signed on to sponsor the moguls training and event site, and airbag facility. The project is set to be built on Blackcomb Mountain's Sorcerer's run just above the midstation gondola next summer.

"Our club has long needed a home similar to what the alpine club enjoys on Whistler and the Gemini Freestyle Centre will provide a central base for our kids right below the terrain park and half pipe," Freestyle Whistler executive director Chris Muir said in a release. "We look forward to being able to showcase our local freestyle talent to the general public and welcoming more kids into the club. The facility will also mean that our high performance mogul skiers have an excellent training venue right here at home, rather than having to travel to other mountains."

The agreement helps the committee claim a $300,000 grant from the Whistler Blackcomb Foundation.

However, the project still needs to raise roughly $35,000 to complete everything as planned. It hopes to reach that mark through Freestyle Whistler's upcoming Ullr Gala at the GLC on Nov. 30.

Tickets are $75 and are available at www.freestylewhistler.com.

Whistler Secondary wraps rugby season

The Whistler Secondary School (WSS) Storm recently wrapped its Grade 8 and 9 rugby season with exhibition matches against Vancouver's St. George's School.

Coach Peter Train noted in an email that more than 40 students trained for the program's seven weeks in preparation for the games. Whistler saw more than 250 attendees check out the first game, a loss in which the home side was hindered by injuries and played without substitutions. A return engagement at St. George's saw a closer match in which the Storm fell 28-22.

"That's a huge achievement when you take into account that St. George's plays over 20 games a season. It's a testament not only to the athleticism of the Whistler players but their ability to work hard in practice and their courage on the match days," Train wrote.

Hockey Canada announces changes to division names

Peewees will be a thing of the past in 2020.

Hockey Canada's new names for minor hockey age groupings are becoming more intuitive, as age divisions will change to: under-21, under-18, under-15, under-13, under-11, under-9 and under-7.

Current names include dated and offensive names such as midget for the under-18 division.

Hockey Canada's membership approved the change at its Winter Congress in Montreal last weekend.

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