No GS is too giant for James Crawford.
The Whistler Mountain Ski Club competitor dominated a pair of giant slalom competitions at Panorama Mountain Resort last week.
The 17-year-old skied to victory in the Dec. 22 race before settling for second in the Dec. 23 race.
In his gold-medal performance, Crawford edged fellow Canadian Kevyn Read and Australia's Dominic Demschar by 0.19 seconds after a combined showing of two minutes, 11.40 seconds.
Other top 30 showings for local skiers included: Broderick Thompson in eighth and Brodie Seger in 11th.
The following day, Andy Trow — a two-time all-American for the University of Utah — bested Crawford by 0.56 seconds.
Other top WMSC 30 finishers were: Brodie Seger (11th overall), Cameron Alexander (25th), Max Peiffer (27th) and Kyle Yates (28th).
Between the Keurig Cup races, Nor-Am Cup races, and heavy amounts of training at Panorama, Crawford had spent a fair amount of time in the southeastern part of the province recently. He admitted being disappointed in his earlier results, as he suffered several falls and incomplete races in the first part of the schedule.
"I started off pretty brutal. It was about 12 races in that span. In the two super-Gs, I did quite well in the Nor-Ams, and then during the tech events, I fell every day," he recalled. "(In the Keurig Cup), I fell both slalom days, and then on the two GS days, I managed to figure something out and end a long stretch with some good results."
Crawford explained he changed his mindset before the giant slaloms, reining in his focus from beating the competition to focus on putting up the best result he could and letting everything else fall where it may.
"I was mad. As I say, I had a rough week," he said. "The first race was just trying to get back in the groove, not screwing up, not falling and the second day was more I can actually do this, I can win. I had an unfortunate mistake on the first run, but I did manage to pull it together on the second run."
Locals also impressed on Dec. 20, as a contingent swept the men's U18 slalom podium, with Crawford, Riley Seger and Peiffer emerging at the top of the age class. The three finished in ninth, 12th and 21st overall as Croatia's Istok Rodes, a U21 skier, ended up in top spot with a combined one minute, 10.40 seconds — 1.01 seconds better than second-place finisher Elias Kolega, also of Croatia.
"It was another tough day down Hayfever but I feel like I was able to handle it well and ended up skiing some good slalom," first-year BCST member Seger told BC Alpine.
Added Peiffer in the BC Alpine release: "I've been struggling a bit in slalom lately and it's finally starting to come together ... Today was a good result and I'm looking to build on it tomorrow."
Cameron Alexander also made the top 30, finishing 25th.
Local results weren't quite as strong on Dec. 21 as only Brodie Seger and Peiffer made the top 30 at 24th and 27th, respectively. Norway's Henrik Roea posted a 1:27.21, besting silver medallist Kevyn Read by 1.09 seconds.
Squamish's Mikayla Martin also found her stride in the giant slalom, earning a fifth-place on Dec. 22. She was 1.74 seconds behind winner Stephanie Gartner of Fernie, who had a winning time of 2:17.98. Pemberton's Charley Field was 14th and Jasmin Smallwood was 25th.
Martin bettered that the following day, charging up to second spot behind Spruce Grove's Jocelyn McCarthy. Her time of 2:26.48 was 0.96 seconds off the pace.
Rae Swette ended up in eighth, Gabrielle Smith 24th and Sarah Kapur 26th.
The women competed in Nor-Am slalom on Dec. 20 and Martin was the only local top 30 finisher, placing 30th. Great Britain's Alexandra Tilley won with a time of 2:26.69.
Swette fared better in the Dec. 21 slalom, a she posted a 15th-place finish overall and was the only local to make the top 30. McCarthy won with a time of 1:32.53, knocking off Gartner by a full 1.94 seconds.
Freestyle skiers open with mixed results
Canada's dual moguls athletes have started the season strong.
Philippe Marquis of Quebec City opened the season with a gold medal in Ruka, Finland on Dec. 13. The gold was his first in nearly three years and his first podium finish in nearly two. Marquis edged Japan's Sho Endo 18-17 to win the gold.
"Everyone was skiing pretty well. Skiing smart was the key to my success and to make it possible for me to win gold. It's really great to start the year on this note," Marquis told the Canadian Freestyle Ski Association website.
Canadians also placed well within the top 10, as Marc-Antoine Gagnon (Terrebonne, Que.) finished seventh, defending Crystal Globe champion Mikael Kingsbury (Deux-Montagnes, Que.) was ninth and Pascal-Olivier Gagné (Montreal)10th.
On the women's side, Olympic moguls silver medallist Chloé Dufour-Lapointe placed second, as Kazakhstan's Yulia Galysheva took the gold 20-15.
The event was originally slated to be just a moguls competition, but was altered to duals about two weeks before the event.
"We started off with a duals competition (this year) so it was a little bit scary," Montrealer Dufour-Lapointe, the 2013 duals champion, told the CFSA site. "But I ended up having so much fun on this course and finishing second. I'm really happy to start my season this way."
Canadians dominated the top 10 here, too, with Quebec City's Audrey Robichaud in fourth, Olympic moguls gold medallist Justine Dufour-Lapointe (Montreal) in fifth, Penticton's Andi Naude was sixth and Montreal's Maxime Dufour-Lapointe was ninth.
Meanwhile, the aerial skiers opened competition a week later in Beijing, China on Dec. 20 and 21. The men and women each had two events, and Montreal's Melissa Corbo was the only top-10 finisher, placing 10th in the ladies' event on the first day of competition.
Half-marathon registration to open
Those making New Year's resolutions to do some big runs can make strides on that good intention almost immediately.
Registration for The North Face Whistler Half Marathon opens at 9 a.m. on Jan. 1 at www.whistlerhalfmarathon.com.
The half-marathon will run for the fifth time on June 6 at Whistler Olympic Plaza. Options for athletes include the 21.1-km half-marathon, the 10-km road race, and the one-km Little Rippers kids' run. Registration will be capped at 1,200, 600, and 150 participants, respectively.
Early-bird fees are $78 for the half-marathon, $45 for the road race and $10 for the kids' run.
In addition to the established half-marathon training program, organizers are also offering a 12-week training course for the 10-km run. Coach Christine Suter will teach beginning runners "drills, form and technique" according to a release. Both training programs run from March 19 to June 2 and are $165 per person.
The Sea to Sky Combo registration will also be offered this year for runners interested in also taking part in the Blueshore Financial Spirit of the Shore Half Marathon in West Vancouver in October. Those signing up for both through the offer save $20.
The race supports Chron's and Colitis Canada, with $5 from each half-marathon and road race registration going to the charity.
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