Pro racing returns to Whistler with Power Vitamins Cup
A new pro ski race in Whistler can help you to start your New Year in style. The only catch is that you have to win it first, and when you dangle more than $5,000 in prize money on the line, the competition can get pretty stiff.
This New Year's Day, Jan. 1, will see the return of dual format ski racing to Whistler - something members of the ski community have been missing since the Gold Cup series fell apart after 1998 due to a lack of sponsorship. The Power Vitamins Cup, sponsored by Jamieson Laboratories, fills that gap.
According to race organizer Chris Kent the sponsorship came about after talking to an old friend from the national ski team who knew that Jamieson Laboratories was actively looking to sponsor a pro event in Whistler.
New Year's Day wasn't their first choice, but it was all they could get at such late notice. Besides, Kent says, it's part of racing.
"A lot of people will party anyway, but if they have a race to get to, they'll get there," said Kent. "How you spent New Year's Eve could be a factor in this race."
In dual ski racing, skiers go head to head against one another in two runs on parallel giant slalom courses. Only the winner of the two runs, with the best combined time, moves into the next round.
There is a lot of strategy at play in a dual race; more than in a regular race says Kent.
"At the start gate, you can try to psyche out your opponent a little, talk to them, play with their minds," said Kent.
Once the race is underway, you don't have to worry about time as much as the guy or girl beside you. If you get a good start on your opponent you can play it safe if you're sure you're going to win a heat.
"If you're behind, you have to take some chances, cutting the lines pretty tight, and you run the risk of crashing a gate or hitting a rut and getting thrown off course," Kent said.
Even if you lose the first run by a long margin, a maximum time penalty will be assessed against you that makes it possible to come back in the second run.
"Even if you fall, you might be assessed a time penalty of a second-and-a-half - I think that's the time - so you can still come back. It won't be easy, but if you take some chances, and your competitor makes a mistake, then you can still pull it out. It's a pretty exciting format," said Kent.
In the pro category, the top prize for men is $3,000 in cash. The top women's prize is $2,000. In the recretional categories, which won't be as competitive, the list of prizes includes Karbon ski suits. There is also a draw prize of Dynastar skis available to all participants.
A lot of the top active and retired racers in Whistler have already shown an interest in the competition, and Kent wouldn't be surprised if a few former World Cup skiers make the trip from as far away as Ontario.
"I think we'll see some pretty good racing in the pro category," said Kent.
You can register on race day at the top of the Upper Dave Murray Downhill, or in advance at www.powervitaminscup.ca. There's a 10 per cent discount for registering online.