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Whistler skiers named to B.C. Ski Team

Eight Whistler Mountain Ski Club athletes were named to the B.C. Ski Team and development team by B.C. Alpine this week to represent the province for the 2004-2005 season.


The athletes were selected based on their national rankings in each of the four alpine disciplines; downhill, super giant slalom, giant slalom and slalom.

As part of the B.C. Ski Team, the athletes will train and compete nationally and internationally, with 120 on the snow.

This summer the team will be training on snow in B.C., Oregon and South America, and will follow dryland training programs with their coaches. Racing will start in late November, with between 45 and 50 competitions for the men’s and women’s teams.

The athletes will receive support along the way from their main sponsors at Mars Incorporated, as well as travel support from Pontiac GMC and clothing from Descente.

New to the team this year is 16-year-old Matthew Holler of Vancouver and the WMSC. Holler has been one of the top racers with the club for the past two seasons, and led the province in the J1 category (ages 15-16) in the Mars Cup standings.

Whistler’s Scott Hume, a 22-year-old veteran technical racer who was strong in both the Mars Cup and national Pontiac GMC series, will undoubtedly lead the B.C. Ski Team this year.

Richmond’s Ben Chaddock, 19, an alumnus of the WMSC, will join the B.C. Ski Team for a second season.

The three Whistler skiers will be joined on the men’s team by 19-year-old Graham Kraft from the Silver Star Ski Club in Vernon and 19-year-old Dustin Fraser of Quadra Island, who raced for the Mt. Washington Ski Club.

The women’s team will also feature three Whistler skiers, all 17 years old. Alison Leighton was arguably the top K1 in the province last year with two gold medals and a bronze in the Mars Canadian Junior Alpine Championships, a bronze in the Alberta Cup, and similar results at the national Pontiac GMC level. This is her second year with the provincial team.

Danielle Robson and Kendall Benbow are also in their second year with the team.

They will be joined by 18-year-old Danielle Poleschuk of the Fernie Alpine Ski Team and 16-year-old Lindsay Kraft, who is following in the footsteps of her older brother to join the B.C. Ski Team.

On the development side of things, 19-year-old Trevor Conroy of Truro, Nova Scotia – who lives in Whistler and trains with the WMSC – will return for a second season. He will be joined by Robbie Dixon of North Vancouver, another WMSC skier, who will be in his fourth year with the provincial team.

The women’s development team will feature two rookies to the provincial team. At the top of the list is Whistler’s Charlotte Whitney, 19, who is coming off an incredible season. Not only did she take the lead in provincial and regional competitions, she made a splash at the national level as well to finish first in the Mars Cup standings for J2’s (ages 17 and up) and eighth overall in the overall Pontiac GMC Cup standings.

Unfortunately for Whitney, she injured her ACL in the last race of the season, and underwent surgery two weeks ago. She will spend her summer rehabilitating her knee, and hopes to be back on snow in September when the team goes to Chile for training. Still, even with the injury Whitney says she is excited to be on the team.

"It was great to be named, it’s a really good opportunity I think, and a step in the right direction," she said.

"I want to progress. The knee injury was a bit of a setback for me, and it’s going to be a while before I can race on it, but if it all goes as planned I want to progress enough to qualify for the Junior National Team."

Whitney’s long-term goal is to make the senior national team, following in the footsteps of other Whistler skiers like Britt Janyk and Christina Risler.

Jenny Graham of Comox and the Mt. Washington Ski Club will take the other spot with the development team.

Dale Stephens will return as the men’s head coach, and will be joined by Glenn Thomsen. Before joining the B.C. Ski Team two seasons ago Stephens was the head downhill coach of the U.S. Ski Team for four years.

Thomsen was recently the head coach of the Canadian Development Team (2002 to 2004) and coached the Canadian Team to five medals at the World Junior Championships.

Nancy O’Neill of Fernie is returning for a third year as head coach of the women’s team, and will be joined by assistant coach Andrew Lambert who was recently coached the Vancouver Ski Team.

The team will be leaving shortly for an on-snow training camp at Sunshine Village.