A chance to go fast 

Whistler skiers make most of Parsons Memorial super G races with all 24 medals

click to enlarge More Cowbell A racer poles out of the gates in the annual Parsons Memorial super G on Blackcomb this past weekend. Whistler Mountain Ski Club athletes won all 24 medals. Photo by Ian Robertson, www.coastphoto.com.
  • More Cowbell A racer poles out of the gates in the annual Parsons Memorial super G on Blackcomb this past weekend. Whistler Mountain Ski Club athletes won all 24 medals. Photo by Ian Robertson, www.coastphoto.com.

With eight World Cup medals already this season, all of them in speed events, it might seem to an outsider that Canadian speed programs emphasize speed over technical skills. In fact, the opposite is true in Canada as speed events are usually introduced to FIS level skiers, aged 15 or over —— anywhere from five to eight years later than programs in Europe.

The one exception is the Parsons Memorial Downhill, hosted since 1980 by the Whistler Mountain Ski Club. The race is the only speed event in the regional series and in western Canada for K2 racers aged 13-14. J1 racers, aged 15, also took part. For many athletes, including current World Cup team members Manuel Osborne-Paradis, Britt Janyk, and Robbie Dixon, the Parsons Memorial was their first opportunity to race a speed event.

The event used to be a full downhill, but in recent years has been changed to a super G race. This year’s course was set up on Lower Cruiser with a finish line at Base II, giving riders several opportunities to get into a tuck and let their skis go. There were also a couple of jumps on the course, which would also be included on a World Cup level course.

“Speed racing has everything to do with confidence,” said WMSC program director Nigel Cooper. “When you trust that you are in a safe, secure environment then you can let it all hang out on the line in training and racing. With full netting in place the kids will trust themselves to push the limits of their technical and tactical skills and hammer hard for the best training effect and results in super G and downhill.”

Although clubs from the Lower Mainland and Vancouver Island took part, skiers with the WMSC won all 24 medals handed out over two days of racing.

On Saturday, organizers got off four races.

On the women’s side, the podium for both races was the same — Mackenzie Patterson in first, Elyse Timoshenko in second, and Marielle Thompson in third. Kailee Darlington was credited as the most improved skier, starting in 27 th position and placing fourth in both runs.

On the men’s side it was a three-way battle between Ford Swette, Willy Konantz and Spencer Morris. Swette led the way in both races to earn two gold medals, while Morris and Konantz each won a silver and bronze.

On the second day of competition organizers managed to get off another four races despite the 13 cm snowfall on Saturday afternoon and evening.

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