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Winterhawks to be featured on HNIC

Sports briefs: Thompson wins in France and Switzerland; National Ski Day coming in January

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The Whistler Whistlerhawks rep teams are a bunch of all-stars.

And they'll show that on national television in the New Year.

On Dec. 10 at Meadow Park Sports Centre, the atom, peewee and bantam rep teams filmed short segments introducing the next week's NHL games on Hockey Night in Canada for three separate Saturday nights.

On Jan. 21, the bantams will preview the NHL All-Star Game from Los Angeles, while on Feb. 11, the peewees will tell viewers all about Hockey Day in Canada, which features the Winnipeg Jets at Montreal Canadiens, Ottawa Senators at Toronto Maple Leafs, Edmonton Oilers at Chicago Blackhawks, and Calgary Flames at Vancouver Canucks. The first appearance will be from the atoms, who on Jan. 7 will inform fans that they can watch the N.Y. Rangers take on Montreal, Toronto visit Ottawa, Winnipeg battle Los Angeles and Calgary head into Edmonton the following week.

Five to seven players got speaking roles in each segment, though all team members will appear cheering on camera.

All three rep teams are sponsored by Scotiabank, an HNIC booster, and in addition to getting a little face time on some of the season's biggest nights, the three teams received $2,000 to share. The Pemberton and Whistler branches contributed $1,000 each.

"Because we're a Scotiabank team, Hockey Night in Canada contacted the bank and said 'We'd like to do something,' and gave me a little bit of guideline and then they showed up," WMHA president Steve Legge said. "It came together a few weeks ago, but they didn't want the kids knowing much until a certain time so it wasn't too distracting."

The donations are used to help cover tournament costs at an out-of-town competition, Legge said.

Thompson wins in Val Thorens and Arosa

Marielle Thompson kicked off 2016-17 in typical fashion, cruising to an FIS World Cup ski-cross win in Val Thorens, France.

The 24-year-old bested Switzerland's Fanny Smith and Swedes Sandra Naeslund and Anna Holmlund in the Dec. 9 final. Fellow Canadians Kelsey Serwa and Georgia Simmerling were eighth and ninth, respectively, while Brittany Phelan took 12th.

"I'm happy to have the first win of the season," Thompson told Alpine Canada Alpin. "I'm hoping to ski better tomorrow since I made a few mistakes today."

Thompson advanced to the finals by coming back on Serwa to edge her in the semifinal.

Another race was held Dec. 10, with Serwa emerging as the top Canadian in fourth, while Thompson took fifth. Simmerling was again ninth, while Phelan jumped a spot to 11th.

In the men's races, Chris Del Bosco was the top Canadian on Dec. 9, taking fourth, while Kevin Drury was seventh, Brady Leman 14th, Kristofor Mahler 22nd, Ned Ireland 24th and Whistler's Dave Duncan 31st. Leman had a bit better day on Dec. 10, taking second behind Switzerland's Alex Fiva, while Duncan jumped up to sixth. Del Bosco was 17th, Mahler 21st, Drury 26th and Ireland 31st.

The team then travelled to Arosa, Switzerland, for another race on Dec. 13 where Thompson won again, sharing the podium with Poland's Karolina Riemen-Zerebecka and France's Ophelie David. Simmerling was ninth, Phelan 12st and Serwa 18th. As for the men, Leman took his second silver position in a row, finishing behind only Switzerland's Romain Detraz. Jean Frederic Chapuis took third. Meanwhile, Drury was 10th, Duncan 19th, Ian Deans 26th and Del Bosco 33rd. Mahler and Ireland, meanwhile, took 36th and 47th, respectively.

National Ski Day coming in January

Alpine Canada Alpin announced on Dec. 12 that CIBC National Ski Day would cross the country, including a touch-down in Whistler, on Saturday, Jan. 14.

Whistler Blackcomb is one of 17 participating resorts and is offering a learner's package for $25. The offer includes a learning-area lift ticket, MAX4 beginner lesson and equipment rental. Only 225 packages are available and can be secured at alpinecanada.org/nationalskiday.

"Skiing is in the DNA of all Canadians and Alpine Canada athletes proudly represent our country on the biggest stages of international competition. We welcome all Canadians to join us in the celebration of our great sport on January 14th," Alpine Canada president and CEO Mark Rubenstein said in a release.

Volunteers needed for XC events

The weekend of Jan. 20 to 22 will be a busy one at Whistler Olympic Park.

Callaghan Valley Cross Country will bring the Haywood Noram Westerns to the Sea to Sky for the first time while also hosting two Teck Coast Cup events.

In addition to individual races, there will also be a team relay, which will be a fun event for spectators at the park.

"The team relay is a new event for us, and we've designed the courses to loop the athletes through the stadium several times, so spectators will be able to follow the excitement and cheer them on," chief of competition Sherryl Yeager said in a release.

Volunteers are required for all three events and no experience is necessary. Those interested in helping can contact Margot Murdoch at mlebrun@telus.net.

Ujejski brothers make Yukon finals

Anders and Chase Ujejski had strong showings in the first Canada Cup competition of the year in Mount Sima, Yukon.

The Whistler Blackcomb Freestyle Ski Club duo placed 14th and 15th, respectively, after making the finals at the slopestyle event late last month, but were missed in the wrap-up published last week. Pique regrets the omission.

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