When raced at its full extension, the Peak to Valley Race has a reputation for burning up all those who participate.
And in the 32nd running, that was true for even the fittest participants, including Whistler Mountain Ski Club (WMSC) coaches and even a national team skier.
One of the winners, Kara Delaney of the NZ Foundation Team, acknowledged even after consulting teammates and fellow participants, she wasn't sure what she had to do to tackle the full five-kilometre course, complete with 180 gates and a roughly 1.5-kilometre vertical drop.
"I had no idea what I was getting myself into. That was a really long course," the WMSC U14 assistant coach said. "(I was told) it's good but it's a mind game. After the Peak Chair, you've just got to tell yourself to keep going. I was like, 'this is going to be probably fine. It's going to be fun. I'm used to racing.'
"That was probably the hardest thing I've ever done."
But Delaney's travails paid off, as her time of six minutes, 29.49 seconds (6:29.49) in "thick ice fog" and rutty conditions on Feb. 20 helped the 149-and-under age-group team to a four-person time of 25:11.25 to earn them the Stefan Ples Trophy for the overall title. The squad, which also included Brian Bennett, Robert Brudar and Jordy Norris, emerged over last year's champions, the Blue Ice Wrecking Crew, which was second with a time of 26:23.40. The team of Dave Johnston, Tommy Thompson, Marian Treger and Kim McKnight Pedersen won the 175-199 division, however, while the third-overall quartet of Menage A Quatre (John Muzzillo, Richard Harley, Mike Noc and Heike Stippler) was the 200-224 age-group champion.
"You couldn't see. You just had to keep going," Delaney said. "I knew after the first day, Brian and Robert had some pretty good runs, so we were 40 seconds ahead. Robert said, 'Just finish. If you fall, hike.'
"We all ended up doing fantastically."
Her teammate, Bennett, put up Friday's top time with a result of 6:05.83 to help put the squad in a great position at the midpoint.
"It felt pretty good. It's a long course so you try to stay on your feet and carry as much momentum as you can," the three-time racer said. "The first time I did it, it was more skiing to see what happens. This time, I tried to go as hard as I can until I run out of steam, then tried to stay on my feet and not hit the brakes anywhere."
Bennett was glad to get his first title under his belt while he's still young, especially with the potential of more in the future.
"I know a lot of people have spent a lot of time trying to get their names on that cup, so I'm glad it only took three swings," he said.
Other division champions were Bobby's Bullets (Grace Oaks, Bob Campbell, Heinz Grossman and Bob Deeks) in the 250 and over category and Dave Murray Trophy champions, Team Spirit (John Townsend, Brian Cameron, Geordie Trusler and Kary Firstbrook) defending the 225-249 event and Peak Performance (Britt Janyk, Claudi Sala, Christian Stulz and Elise Savard) won the 150-174 event.
Swette posts top individual time
Ford Swette was an emergency fill-in on his mother Marilyn's Peak to Valley Trollop and Friends squad.
The national team skier posted the best run of the weekend in blistering fashion, completing the course in 5:32.10. The team finished 17th in the 200-224 event with a combined 37:00.41, nearly 10 minutes back of division winners Menage A Quatre.
"It would be kind of sad to see a regular skier beat a national team athlete, right?" he said. "Of course, I was thrilled because that's what I wanted to do. It was a lot of fun."
Swette said the distance got to him, and if he were to make a return to the race, he'd keep more gas in the tank for later in the course, as he admittedly finished the contest poorly by his standards.
"It was probably four times longer than any course I'd ever skied before," he said. "Before I started, I thought 'Man, this probably isn't going to be that hard. I can do it no problem.' It was really long. Probably about halfway down, I was really, really hurting."
Swette entered the race coming off of a strong FIS showing in Bromont last week, taking a third place in a giant slalom race and fourth place in a slalom race.
The next big event for Swette is the Nor-Am Cup finals in Aspen next month.
"I've been skiing well all year, so skiing hasn't been the problem. It's just the races haven't gone very well," he said. "I'll do really well in one run of a race, but I wasn't able to put two runs together."
As for the women, Britt Janyk put up the first day's fastest time with a 6:29.49 mark while Liz Thompson of Barry the Rooster was the top performer on the second day with a 6:19.56 time that was fourth overall for the day.
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