Whistler skiers on Extreme Series podiums 

Barr wins gold, Drouin silver at Sunshine

The Extreme Sports Skiercross at Sunshine Village, Alberta, is one of the premier skiercross events in Canada, attracting top athletes from across North America.

Whistler’s Davey Barr pushed hard out of the gate race after race, and emerged with the victory.

"It was just a great day," said Barr. "The course was really good, even better than last year. The national team skiers weren’t here this year because of scheduling (the Pontiac GMC National Championships in Whistler) but the field was still really strong. There were a lot of close races."

Barr’s strongest point is his starts, and as a result he made the hole shot (first out of the gate) in almost every race, and held on to finish line. The few races in which he found himself behind, he stayed with the leader until an opportunity to pass presented itself.

"Some spots are better than others, and you watch for those places during your training runs, but I just tried to stay in close in this race, and finally a good spot would just appear," he says.

Barr is having a strong season, finishing second at the U.S. Freeskiing Nationals and posting top results in a variety of other pro and open competitions around North America and Europe. He’s off to Quebec this week for a Saab Crossmax race, then will return to Whistler for the Saab Salomon Crossmax Series finale in Whistler.

His sponsors at Rossignol, Oakley and Giro have helped Barr to attend several events this season, although money for a few events has come out of his own pocket. The pressure to win is about the same in both scenarios, says Barr, but there is a certain satisfaction in winning back your airfare and hotel expenses.

"I’m just entering every race I can, and going result by result, keeping things rolling," said Barr.

Barr wants to race in the FIS World Cup skiercross events next season to see what those events are like.

"When the FIS gets involved they can either destroy it or help it. We’ll see in the next couple of years," he said.

Either way, he is encouraged by the fact that snowboardcross was added to the Olympics recently with the help of the FIS, and hopes to see skiercross at the Games in Turin, Italy in 2006.

In the Extreme Series finals, Barr edged past Christian Questad of Denver, Scott Wearmouth of Calgary and Michael Cazes of Loretteville, Quebec to take the win.

In the small final, Cam Bailey of Calgary finished ahead of Ken Pedersen of Port Moody, Whistler’s Rejean Amirault and David Gilmet of Jasper.

In the women’s race, the win went to Anik Demers of Lac Beauport, Quebec, followed by Wendy Lumby of Calgary. Whistler’s Candice Drouin, who competes in snowcross events on both skis and snowboards – the only athlete to do so with Sean Palmer no longer competing – finished in third place. Ashleigh McIvor, another Whistler racer, finished fourth.

According to Drouin, her skiing still needs a little work.

"In skiing, I still have a long way to go if I want to be at the top of my game," she said. "I need to learn how to turn. I have pretty strong starts, but if I don’t make the hole shot right at the beginning, I don’t do as well."

Drouin held the lead at one point in the Extreme Series finals, but lost it in the turns and in a roller section.

"I do feel I need to step it up if I want to do better. Every race that comes up, I’m still asking myself ‘should I race? Yes? No? Maybe?’ I think I could do better if I just committed all the way."

Although she enjoys skiercross, she says she will probably refocus on snowboardcross next season because it’s an Olympic event in 2006, and she is one of the top athletes in the discipline in Canada.

"I would love to be there for that," she said.

Next on her race calendar this season is the snowboard nationals at Calgary Olympic Park, followed by the Whistler Crossmax event, part of the World Ski and Snowboard Festival.

For more information on the Saab Salomon Crossmax Series, visit www.saabcrossmax.com.


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