You could give credit to home field advantage, but the truth is that Whistler's Finn Iles doesn't seem to have any problems winning races anywhere. He's a double provincial champion in alpine this year (slalom and giant slalom). He might have been the ski cross champion as well, but instead left the provincial championships early to join his hockey team in winning — of course — a provincial championship.
In a field of over 100 racers, Iles kicked off his Rio-Tinto Alcan Whistler Cup weekend with a win in the boy's K1 (age 11 and 12) kombi race with a time of 41.49 seconds. Hayata Wakatsuki of Japan was second in 42.04, followed by Kuba Sudomericky of Devil's Glen in Ontario.
Other Whistler skiers in the top 15 were Kasper Woolley in eighth and Kyle Alexander in ninth.
In the women's K1 Kombi, the top Whistler skier was Katie Fleckenstein in eighth, out of almost 70 racers, in 36.84. The podium was international, with Asami Katagiri of Japan placing first in 32.96, Carlotta Saracco of Italy placing second in 34.47 and Chelsea Kumono of Japan in third in 34.58.
This season the organizers of the Whistler Cup opted to skip on FIS sanctioning for the K1 races, opening it up to clubs as well as national sport organizations. That way teams could send racers without pre-qualifying athletes at FIS events.
On Saturday, the K1 girls raced giant slalom and the K1 boys slalom.
In the GS, Katie Fleckenstein moved up to fourth place overall behind Carlotta Saracco, Asami Katagiri and Chelsea Kumono. Mollie Jepsen of the Whistler Mountain Ski Club was ninth.
In the slalom the top three were Kuba Sudomericky, Liam Wallace on the Sunshine Alpine Racers and Hayata Wakatsuki of Japan. The top Whistler skier was Griffin Smith in 13th. Finn Iles was one of three Whistler skiers not to finish the first run, along with Kyle Alexander and Jack Forsyth.
The teams switched courses on Sunday, with the girls racing slalom and the boys GS.
Finn Iles was back on top in the boys race to win his second medal of the weekend, followed by Liam Wallace and Noel Louis Philippe from Quebec. Kyle Alexander was seventh.
In the girls' slalom, Laurence Huot of Quebec placed first, followed by Brianna MacDonald of Ontario and Kristina Natalenko of Grouse Mountain. Anna Gosney moved up to eighth for Whistler while Lucy Turner placed just outside the top 15 in 17th.
With two gold medals, Iles won the Dave Murray Award presented to the top Canadian male at the Whistler Cup.
In K2, the weekend opened with a super G, followed by slalom and GS events.
In the men's super G the win went to Australian racer Oliver Thompson in 1:00.70, followed by WMSC skiers Cameron Alexander and James Crawford in 1:01.24 and 1:01.38 respectively. Other WMSC skiers in the mix include Cooper Yates in fifth, Riley Seger in ninth and Max Peiffer in 13th.