Whistler's Reid Watts was named to Canada's junior national luge team this week after the squad held its final selection races in Calgary on Sunday, Dec. 15, making him just the second B.C. athlete ever named to the team.
Watts will join Pemberton's Jenna Spencer on the Junior World Cup circuit in the New Year, racing in Youth A competition.
The 14-year-old said it was "unbelievable" to find out he'd be the first B.C. boy making the team.
"I didn't think I'd made it," said Watts. "It's really exciting. On the junior team, there's only four people, and now two of us are from B.C. ... That's awesome."
The Canadian team did not participate in the first half of the Junior World Cup season, but will travel to Europe next month for two races in Germany, as well as the Junior World Championships taking place at Igls, Austria.
"It's going to be super exciting and a great experience, for sure," said Watts, who credited coach Matt McMurray, family and staff at the Whistler Sliding Centre and Canadian Sport Institute-Pacific for supporting him along the way.
Sunday's final selection race was also the Canadian Junior Championships. Though they're all still youth-aged, Watts finished fourth in the men's race, while fellow local product Adam Shippit was fifth and Nicky Klimchuk-Brown was ninth.
The B.C. Luge Association is also expected to assemble a development team that will travel to Europe for experience on tracks over there this winter, though the participating athletes will be named at a later date.
UJEJSKIS TOP PRS PARK JAM
Despite blustery conditions for Whistler Blackcomb's first Park Rider Session of the winter, several skiers and snowboarders braved the elements for the all-rounder park jam hosted on Sunday, Dec. 15 in Blackcomb's Nintendo Terrain Park.
The competitors took turns showing off their stuff on three different features throughout the contest — one rail/box option, one jump and a spine.
The judges selected Anders Ujejski as the day's top performer, although he was edged by just a handful of points for the No. 1 spot in the boys' 13-and-under ski division by twin Chase Ujejski. Evan Phillips placed third.
The boys' 13-and-under snowboard category was tightly contested, as Felix Ferris wound up with a cumulative score that left him just one point ahead of Jadyn Chomlack. Finn Finestone was just eight points back in third place.
Other category winners from the event included Yoshida Masashi (men's ski), Samm Neumann (men's snowboard), Teagan Bruns (girls' ski 14 to 16), Zachary Vague (boys' ski 14 to 16) and Georgia Ferris (girls' snowboard 14 to 16).
The terrain parks and Skiers Plaza will be busy with more WB freestyle contests through the holiday season. King of the Rail events are planned for Dec. 28 and Jan. 4 at the base of Whistler Mountain, while slopestyle competitions are scheduled for Dec. 29 and Jan. 5 on Blackcomb and Whistler, respectively. The Dec. 29 event is for U14 athletes only.
GRANFONDO DETOUR DETAILS ANNOUNCED
The RBC GranFondo Whistler's optional route extension was finally revealed Tuesday, Dec. 17, and it will take riders on a gruelling climb up Cypress Mountain.
The 30-kilometre addition brings the total length of the extended route to 152 km, and the detour up Cypress features 800 metres of vertical climbing.
The extra detour, known as "The Forte," was originally announced by organizers of the cycling event between downtown Vancouver and Whistler but the alignment was kept secret until Tuesday. Despite that, more than half of the spots available for the extension have already been sold. Only 500 riders will be permitted to try it, but less than 200 openings remain.
Riders who participate in The Forte during the 2014 GranFondo, set for Sept. 6 next year, will leave the start line at 6 a.m. — one hour before the rest of the peloton. The turnoff to the Cypress detour is just past the ride's 10-km mark, allowing Forte riders to re-join the pack seamlessly after descending back down towards the Highway.
There is no additional fee to try the extended route. Early bird registration rates are still available at www.rbcgranfondowhistler.com until Jan. 8.