Whistler Nordics' youthful athletes kicked off their season with an impressive showing at the Teck BC Cup event in Vernon on Jan. 9 and 10.
Competing in the juvenile girls 2 division, Benita Peiffer led the way with first-place finishes in both of her events — the free technique interval starts five-kilometre and the classic sprint 0.75-kilometre race.
Meanwhile, in the juvenile girls 1 category, Mila Wittenberg took first in the classic sprint event while capturing third place in the free technique race.
As for the boys, Michael Murdoch took third in both juvenile boys 2 events and Joe Davies was seventh in both juvenile boys 1 events.
Head coach Brent Murdoch was impressed with the girls' ability to hit the podium with each opportunity, including the three victories.
"(They've) been strong podium contenders every race for the last number of years in their age group," Murdoch said. "Benita and Mila, in particular, in the girls' (divisions), they're always on the podium it seems. Getting off to a good start this year has been the goal. Benita has been really training hard over the summer and Mila is more of a multisport athlete, pursuing soccer and various other things."
The coach explained that the boys' events are typically stacked with talented skiers, so the results for both boys were a feat, even if there are higher places for which both can strive.
"The boys are entered into a really tough category with probably a dozen really stellar athletes from around the province and there's no gifts. Every race is a really tough effort and to get on the podium is a really significant thing," he said. "Michael had a couple good races. Joe is just stepping up into an older category, so he's typically up against boys who are much older than him.
"He's up against some boys that are easily a foot taller than him in some cases. He's had good results."
The second Teck BC Cup race of the year is slated for Feb. 6 and 7 in Kamloops, while provincials will come to Whistler Olympic Park from March 4 through 6. Murdoch noted there are several courses that could be selected for the event, but expects to find out early enough that competitors can dig in their poles a few more times to learn all about it.
"All the courses around the province for the BC Cup series are all quite technical and challenging in their own ways," he said. "There's a really broad selection of stuff that could make it quite tough so having some familiarity with that would definitely be an advantage. We'll hopefully find out soon on that."
Whistler Olympic Park regularly hosts Coast Cup Series races, and two are slated back to back on Jan. 30 and 31. Murdoch encourages anyone who has ever pondered racing to come out and give it a shot.
"We're trying to build the sport a little bit and having our Coast Cup races is a great way to get introduced to some of these cross-country ski races in a little less intimidating environment," he said. "I know there's lots of skiers out there and it would be good to see a few of those people participate."
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