Stefanie Fleckenstein knew she was ready.
She just needed to go out and do it.
The Whistler Mountain Ski Club alumnus and current B.C. Ski Team member won the super-G element of the alpine combined race during the Sport Chek Canadian Championships on March 27. She also took a second-place showing in the downhill on March 24. The latter, in a way, was more special because she got to share the podium with younger sister Katie, who was third.
"That was really cool. That was probably the highlight of the week, especially since I haven't been able to race downhill," she said. "Getting to come second at nationals at home and have my sister be right there, too, was really cool."
Fleckenstein acknowledged she was a little worried for her sister, just 16, who looked to go a little wild on her run but in the end, knew exactly what she was doing.
"At first I thought she was going to fall," Fleckenstein chuckled. "She went off the jump a lot bigger than a lot of the girls were and landed almost on her back. She got up and when she came across the line, we were like 'Whoa!'
"She had a good season in pretty much every event, so I knew she was going to be quick."
The elder Fleckenstein, 18, hopes she'll regularly be found with her sister on the steps, just like they were with World Junior downhill champion Valerie Grenier.
"I'm hoping it's the first of many podiums together," she said. "It's nice being on top ahead of her. Gotta stay ahead of the little sister."
The super-G race as part of the alpine combined counted as a FIS race in the standings, though the field was stacked with favourites. Fleckenstein gave up her advantage in the second part of the race, as she was unable to complete the slalom, paving the way for Ontarian Candace Crawford to take her second national title. Albertan Trevor Philp took the men's crown over Whistler's Brodie Seger and Ontarian Phil Brown.
"I was really excited to get to race at home again. I know the hill so well, so I knew that if I just went for it, I had a good chance of being in the top two," she said. "I was racing with Candace all year. I knew how she skied and I had a lot of confidence.
"My coaches basically just told me the course is in perfect condition. They said if you want to win today, you just have to put your skis down the hill and go for it."
Fleckenstein was over in Russia at the World Junior Championships earlier this month, but struggled to finish races, taking a 20th in the downhill. Her showing, less than two seconds behind champion and fellow Canadian Grenier, gave her a sense of what she could do against a field exclusively of Canadians.
"It gave me a lot of confidence going into the downhill and the super-G because I knew that if I could stack up to those girls on the international level, I was going to be able to put down a fast run next to the Canadian girls," she said.
With just Spring Series in Whistler left on the docket, Fleckenstein said she's thrilled to be able to take a few moments to exhale after a season where she was essentially going from one ski hill to the next almost nonstop since December.
"I'm excited to get back to the gym and get back in shape and work on getting strong enough that I can push myself harder next year than I was able to this year," she said. "I know it's going to be even more intense next year and I'm excited to get ready for it."
Several of the Whistler men claimed podium finishes and wins on their home course.
The men's downhill saw a podium sweep, with Morgan Pridy edging out Broderick Thompson and Riley Seger while WMSC alumnus Manny Osborne-Paradis scored the super-G win over Phil Brown and Tyler Werry. WMSC member Jack Crawford took a third-place finish in the giant slalom behind Philp and Werry while the week wrapped with Brown knocking off Philp and Erik Read for the slalom title.
As for the women, Marie-Michele Gagnon scored the super-G win over Crawford and Grenier and took the giant slalom triumph over Crawford and Laurence St. Germain the following day. She took a third win on the last day of competition in the slalom, downing Crawford and Grenier.
As for the para athletes, Alana Ramsey won the women's standing slalom over Mel Pemble and Erin Latimer while Braydon Luscombe won the men's race over Alex Guimond and Mitchell Gourley. As for the men's sitting slalom, Landon Mcgauley got past Cameron Lochhead, while Mac Marcoux, guided by B.J. Marcoux, was the winner of the visually impaired slalom.
Full results are available at www.alpinecanada.org.
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