By Andrew Mitchell
Skiers from across B.C. and Alberta headed to Apex this past weekend to take part in the Mars B.C. Cup downhill and super G races — from members of the national development team in their early 20s, to club racers just turned 15.
For the opening downhill they were met with fast snow, high winds, and a steep course that included a challenging jump. Several skiers went off course or crashed in training, including Whistler’s Brynne Benbow who sustained a knee injury that could leave her sidelined for the remainder of the season.
Still, the show must go on, and athletes pushed their own limits for three days.
In the downhill, Whistler’s Victoria Whitney placed third overall and was the top J1 athlete (age 15-16). Calindy Ramsden of the WMSC was sixth overall and third among the J1s, despite her late start number.
Also in the top-15 were Deborah Bayliss (13 th overall, fifth among J2s), and Julia Murray (15 th overall and seventh among J2s).
In the men’s race, J1 racer Erik Read placed first overall, edging out J2s Cory Canart of Lake Louise and Conrad Pridy of the WMSC. Pridy’s younger brother Morgan placed one spot back, finishing fourth overall and second in the K1 category.
Other WMSC athletes in the top-15 included Sven Winter (eighth overall, third among J2 racers), James McLean (ninth overall, fourth among J2s), Nicholas Cooper (12 th overall and fifth among J2s), and Ian Morrison (15 th overall and sixth among J1s).
In the first FIS super G, which included top Canadian and USA prospects, Jennifer Mah from the WMSC placed sixth overall and third among K2 skiers. Julia Murray was just three spots back, placing sixth in the J2 category.
National level athletes dominated the men’s contest as well, although senior skier Jonathan Hadley of the WMSC managed to place 13 th overall and seventh in his category. Morgan Pridy placed second in the J1 group, 25 th overall.
The second FIS super G was almost derailed by the high wins, but things calmed down enough later in the morning to get the racers out of the gates.
Just one WMSC skier placed in the top-15 for the women; Shannon Smith placed 15 th overall and fifth in the J2 age group.
For the men two Whistler skiers placed in the top-15. Conrad Pridy led the way in seventh, while Stan Rey — who is with the B.C. Ski Team training group — was 12 th .
Nigel Cooper, the program director for the WMSC, said it was a good weekend overall.
“It was pretty good stuff, Morgan and Conrad Pridy were pretty unbelievable in the downhill, and Jen Mah was really strong, but the field was pretty tough for the super G,” he said.
As for Benbow’s injury, Cooper noted that a lot of kids came away injured after crashing but Benbow had the misfortune to land badly after the bottom jump.
“There was some pilot error, but it was not an easy course, it was pretty steep out of some long flats, there were lots of speed areas and turns, lots of diversity. The jump also caused a little bit of grief — not because it was crazy, but because when kids get airborne at those speeds things change a bit. I think Brynne was great in the air, but landed a little bit funny. It’s really too bad because she was killing it, she’s been having a great season and she was looking at a few podiums at Apex as well.”