It may not have been a dream season for Will Routley on a personal level.
But Routley will get to celebrate some team glory as his Optum Pro Cycling p/b Kelly Benefit Strategies club wrapped 2015 as the UCI America Tour champions.
The team enjoyed several strong performances from riders up and down the roster as it accumulated 494 points to edge out Brazil's Funvic – Sao Jose Dos Campos team, which scored 481. The Hincapie Racing Team ended up in third place with an even 400 points.
Optum performance director Jonas Carney said the team's relatively limited scope made the overall title seem like an impossibility, but the racers put up enough good showings to make it a reality.
"The UCI America's Tour wasn't really an objective entering the season because we had no intention of chasing points in Central America, South America, or the Caribbean. Winning the overall without racing south of the border didn't seem like an achievable goal, but somehow the guys pulled it off. It really highlights how strong our team is and validates our 2015 season," Carney said in a release.
Michael Woods led the Optum charge, as he was responsible for 179 of the team's points, the bulk of them coming from a stage win and second-overall showing at the Tour of Utah.
Gagnon takes seventh
Two Canadians found themselves in the top half of the field when racing wrapped in Santa Caterina, Italy on Jan. 5.
One even made the top 10.
Marie-Michele Gagnon led the Canuck charge in the ladies' slalom, posting the seventh-best run both times to hold steady in seventh with a combined one-minute, 59.82 second (1:59.82) total.
Erin Mielzynski then placed 13th in the field of 27 finishers with a combined 2:00.45.
Norway's Nina Loeseth cruised to the win, besting the Czech Republic's Sarka Strachova and Slovakia's Veronika Velez Zuzulova by 1.12 and 1.37 seconds, respectively.
Whistler Nordics Toonies set to return
Thursdays are for Toonies in the winter, too.
Whistler Nordics is preparing to launch its series of races on Jan. 14 on the Lost Lake Trails. The series will run every Thursday night until the end of February, snowfall permitting.
All racers require a headlamp and an evening trail pass (which costs $5). A Whistler Nordics membership, which is $45 for those 19 and over and $25 for those 18 and under, is also needed, though new racers or visitors have the option to try a Toonie at a cost of $5 instead of $2.
Sign-in for the race takes place at the PassivHaus from 5:45 to 6:15 p.m. with action beginning at 6:15 p.m. The first route of the season will take racers from PassivHaus to Lost Lake, where they will complete two laps, with the finish line at the Warming Hut.
The season-opening race après will be sponsored by Cross Country Connections and Murdoch & Co. Organizer Suki Cheyne noted Whistler Nordics is seeking sponsors for some of the later-season races. Those interested can contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
For more information, visit www.whistlernordics.com/toonie-races.
Whistler Olympic Park bringing back $5 Wednesdays
Sir Wilfrid Laurier would be a fan of Wednesday nights at Whistler Olympic Park.
The Callaghan Valley park will be open until 9 p.m. on hump days and from 3 p.m. on, visitors will be charged a reduced rate of $5 for a cross-country skiing, snowshoeing or fat biking ticket, or $5 a car for those going tobogganing or sightseeing.
Additionally, ski and snowshoe rentals are $5 during this time, and the on-site restaurant also has deals for $5.
More information is available at www.whistlersportlegacies.com.
Never Ever Days a hit again
The Whistler Blackcomb Ski School is once again offering a popular program for some older first-timers.
Never Ever Days are returning to the mountains this weekend on Jan. 9 and 10. The offer allows 450 newbies aged 19 and up a full day on the slopes to help promote skiing and snowboarding.
The $25 package includes a Max4 lesson, lift ticket, ski or snowboard rental and après at the Garibaldi Lift Company.
At press time, all 450 slots had sold out, with Saturday's 225 going first and Sunday's remainder filling shortly afterward.
"Never Ever Days removes all the barriers from skiing or snowboarding and gives us the opportunity to show people how much fun these sports are, by letting them get out there and try it," Bartosz Barczynski, the Adult Ski and Snowboard School general manager, said in a release. "The popularity of Never Ever Days has caught on at other resorts, and this year we're thrilled to have Big White and Mount Washington joining us in hosting similar programs. It's exciting to continue to be able to introduce people to the sport and welcome them to the ski and snowboard communities."
For more information or to sign up, visit www.whistlerblackcomb.com/learn.
Test of Metal registration suffers from computer glitch
The Test of Metal race in Squamish is certainly a popular one, but those looking to register may have been surprised at how quickly the race seemed to sell out when registration opened on New Year's Day.
However, a server malfunction shortly after sign-ups were opened to the public made it appear as though all the spots were snapped up almost immediately.
Race director Cliff Miller said in a release that the problem has been resolved and registration remains open for the June 18 race.
"We apologize for any inconvenience this may have caused and to everyone who may have been unable to register," Miller said. "The race is not sold out, the problem has been fixed and registration remains open."
More information is available on the Test of Metal Facebook page or at www.testofmetal.com.
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