WBFSC reaches new heights at Silver Star 

Five national titles taken at Canadian Junior Nationals over the weekend

click to enlarge PHOTO SUBMITTED - Sweet Sweep Freestyle skiers Maia Schwinghammer, Sophia Tchernetsky and Josephine Howell celebrate the Whistler Blackcomb Freestyle Ski Club's podium sweep in the U14 women's slopestyle event.
  • Photo submitted
  • Sweet Sweep Freestyle skiers Maia Schwinghammer, Sophia Tchernetsky and Josephine Howell celebrate the Whistler Blackcomb Freestyle Ski Club's podium sweep in the U14 women's slopestyle event.

The Whistler Blackcomb Freestyle Ski Club outdid itself once again.

At the Difference Capital Canadian Junior Nationals at Silver Star Mountain Resort from April 1 to 4, eight different skiers impressed to haul home 14 medals including five national titles.

Assistant coach Mike Richards explained skiers had to battle with all sorts of conditions ranging from slush on the hill, to hail falling from the sky, and nearly everything in between.

Still, the skiers didn't let the weather get the best of them and prevent them from shining on the nation's biggest stage.

"Junior Nationals has been a build-up all season," Richards said. "Some of them, it was their first time, some of them, they've gone a couple times now, but it's always a big event for any athlete."

Luke Smart, in his third time at the event, won gold in the U16 slopestyle, big air and dual moguls competitions while taking bronze in the slopestyle/big air combined.

"He's been there a few times and he consistently does well," Richards said of Smart.

Other gold medallists were Kai Martin, who took the U14 big air gold, and Sophia Tchernetsky, who nabbed the U14 slopestyle gold as part of a podium sweep for the club.

Kai Smart, like his brother, won multiple medals by taking silver in both the U14 big air and super combined while being the only club member to participate in all five disciplines in his freshman showing.

Though they may not have cleaned up, Richards was impressed with several athletes making their debuts on the stage, as Raine Haziza got a call to take part in the U14 dual moguls just a day before competition and made the most of it, taking a bronze medal.

"It's pretty tough to get into Junior Nationals and she got offered a dual moguls spot literally the day before moguls started," he said. "We still trained moguls, for sure, getting ready for the event in hopes that she gets a spot."

Josephine Howell, meanwhile, recovered from a crash in an event in Whistler where she had to be stretchered off to take bronze medals in the U14 slopestyle and slopestyle/big air combined while narrowly missing out on a third bronze with a fourth-place showing in big air.

"This was her first event to really get back up on the horse and she really started to put her big tricks back on snow," he said. "She got rewarded for it."

Other medallists were Maia Schwinghammer (silver in U14 slopestyle), Anders Ujejski (bronze in U16 slopestyle) and Charlie Armstrong (bronze in U14 dual moguls). Teagan Bruns, Sarah Howitt, Stephen Lindsay Ross, Kevin Leslie, Sam Cordell and Seth McGregor also represented WBFSC at nationals.

Richards said he stresses balance among the athletes, and explained the parks the club accesses makes that mission an easy one.

"We're a really lucky club. We've got access to a lot of great facilities up at Whistler Blackcomb. The mountain helps us a ton and allows us to have all the different athletes do really well in multiple events. We do podium in pretty much all the events that they have at Junior Nationals," he said. "That's a strong showing for our athletes as a well-rounded group."

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