Whistler Mountain Ski Club athletes on the B.C. Ski Team have just finished off another excellent season of racing and are looking towards the future, although what's next for each of them might be a little different.
Pemberton's Charley Field and Whistler's Emma King both had impressive seasons on the women's squad that included strong results and some new challenges.
"I improved throughout the season," said King. "I got to go to Europe and see how racing is over there, which was a great experience."
Unfortunately for King, a minor knee injury suffered in training held her out of the Canadian Alpine Championships at home and the B.C. Keurig Cup finale series that ended Monday, March 31, at Grouse Mountain. But Field found great form down the stretch, including a tremendous fourth-place finish in the women's downhill during nationals.
"I think I finished the season strong," said the 19-year-old, who felt she faded in races late in the season last winter, but was better prepared this year. "After being on this team for three years I've gotten used to (the grind of the schedule). But this summer I also worked really hard and maintained my fitness throughout the season, and that made the last bit of the season great."
It was the B.C. women's team's turn to make the pilgrimage over to Europe to race this season. Field and King got into a handful of European Cup races in Austria in January, and both said it was an eye-opening trip.
"There are way more people around the same skill level, so if you make that one mistake on one turn, you're not going to win or come third," said King. "You're going to come 50th."
Field said she felt her results this season were "pretty significant" as she looks to garner some attention from Alpine Canada as it rebuilds the women's speed team. She's hopeful to continue her racing career on a post-secondary opportunity next season.
But for King, this season appears to be the end of her racing career, as she's planning to study at Ontario's University of Waterloo starting in the fall.
"At the end of this year it kind of seemed like it was the best route to go," said King, 18. "It's kind of sad, but something I think I need to do.
"I'm leaving with a great group of friends and a great support system. Ski racing will always be my first love, and I'll always have Whistler to come home to at Christmas."
RAMSDEN PLEASED WITH PROGRESS
The Whistler club's Blake Ramsden was very encouraged by his race season, coming off a 2012-13 campaign that was hampered by recovery from a blown knee.
"All of last year, improvements were tough to make because my knee would bother me. But now it doesn't bother me at all, so I'm free to improve my skiing as I want," said the 18-year-old.
Ramsden felt he had a strong start and finish to the year, highlighting a block of December races at Panorama and solid results during Canadian Championships as some of his best outings. Though he was surpassed for the men's B.C. Keurig Cup title at Grouse this week by teammate Martin Grasic and settled for second in that series, Ramsden said he's very encouraged for next season.
"That was a bit of a bummer, but that's just one race series," said Ramsden, who added he's likely to return to the team next season. "The rest of the year was so good and I'm definitely motivated next year to start putting down some results at Nor-Ams."
Brodie Seger was less enthused about his season filled with "ups and downs."
"Most of the time I didn't really put it together in the races," he said. "This season was a bit frustrating for me, but it was only frustrating because I know it's so close."
That said, the 17-year-old said he's skiing with better technique and that he had a few "shining moments" to hang his hat on while working under head coach Johnny Crichton and men's team assistant Nick Cooper.
"I think we had such a strong team as a whole," said Seger. "We have such a good group of guys and two amazing coaches, it's been an amazing season for our team overall."
Team veteran Broderick Thompson had a strong finish to the season as well. Although he had a frustrating block of results during nationals, he posted career-best Nor-Am Cup finishes in March, raced all five disciplines at the Junior World Ski Championships and ended his winter with back-to-back second-place finishes in the slaloms at Grouse this week.
"The last two races of the year really made the season awesome, after not a very solid season in slalom and GS," said Thompson, adding that lowering his FIS score in the discipline was as meaningful as landing on the podium. "That was really good."
Thompson will likely be in the running to make Alpine Canada's Development Team during next month's selection camp for the 2014-15 season.
"I feel like I'm one of the main guys in Canada that should be on that team," he said. "We'll see how it goes."
STEEVES WINS B.C. KEURIG CUP TITLE
Whistler's Kelly Steeves put the finishing touches on a Keurig B.C. Cup season title when the series wrapped up at Grouse on Sunday and Monday.
Steeves posted top-10 finishes in both races to end the season atop the women's standings. She was also the top U18 skier on the circuit this year. Whistler's Mikayla Martin and Rae Swette finished the year ranked sixth and seventh, respectively.
Meanwhile, local racer Jack Crawford ended the B.C. Cup campaign as the top U18 athlete on the men's side, finishing third overall behind Grasic and Ramsden. Riley Seger finished sixth overall and was the third U18. Sam Kirshenblatt and Max Peiffer placed ninth and 10th in the standings.
Go to www.bcalpine.com to view the full season rankings for the series.
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