Wild Willies repeats in Peak to Valley race 

Judging by the style and fit of the some of the ski suits, several generations of former alpine racers were represented at the annual ICBC Peak to Valley Race last weekend.

Although many teams were in it to win, for the majority of racers the only victory that mattered was crossing the finish line – with five kilometres of course to cover, making it to the bottom is something to celebrate.

With the snow and high winds on Friday keeping the Alpine closed, course officials were forced to move the start line down from its traditional place at the top of The Saddle. As a result, Friday’s race was a mere 4.2 kilometres in length, compared to 5.6 kilometres on Saturday.

Eighty teams of four competed in the Peak to Valley, in five combined age categories.

Wild Willies was once again the team to beat, with all four racers finishing either first or second in Category II (combined ages 130 to 149).

Chris Kent – a coach for Dave Murray Ski Camps, an endurance skiing champion and a former downhiller for the national team – won the event for the eighth time in nine years with a time of five minutes 8.93 seconds on Saturday through 174 gates. That means he covered approximately 18 metres of ground a second.

He also received points for his pre-race warmup – hiking from the top of the T-bars to the start line to avoid the lineups on the Peak and Harmony chairs.

Chris Gruber, his Wild Willies teammate, finished just four seconds back. On Friday, Russell Clark posted the fastest men’s time at 4:14.35, while Kim McKnight, a former national team level racer, posted the fastest women’s time of 4:23.58.

Their combined time of 18 minutes 59.63 seconds was nearly three whole minutes faster than the next fastest team in their age category, and a minute faster then the next fastest team in the race, The Tapley’s Brew Flyers.

The Gentle Drifters, with Bob Brett, Dee Murray, Luke Dolan and Cathy Conroy, finished second in Category II, followed by Blame It On The Equipment; Richard Potter, Ted Morgan, Leslie Morgan, and Jeff Larouche.

In Category III, with combined ages from 150 to 164, Raven Madness was the top team with a time of 23:08.38. Raven Madness was David Laschuk, Jamie Edwards, Wendy Harrison, and Sean MacDonald.

The Drunken Masters – Dave Engstrom, Bob Hawran, Mark Blyth and Tracy Gibbons, finished second by a margin of just 24 seconds. Squid P2V was third, featuring Lance Holst, Bruno Ferrara, Beau Henderson, and Diana Henderson.

In Category IV, combined ages 165 to 199, Neil Mawdsley, Russell Clark, Liz Roehrig-Thompson and Graham Swann, finished first as Tapley’s Brew Flyers with a time of 20:11.21. The Ed Piggley Race Team of Butch White, Will Fennyhough, Missy Nuun and Chris Shaw finished second, while the Procrastinators – Brent Gilker, Phil Beauregard, Patricia Kost and Ole Christiansen – was a close third.

Category V, combined ages 200 to 224, went to the Georgian Peaks Bombers of Ontario, and Bob Campbell, Heinz Grossmann, Gerry Young and Kate Peacock.

Denny and Jets were second, featuring Wendy Morrison, Bernard Kahlert, Julian Soltendieck and Jules Lajoie. Third went to the Hippopotami; Ian Turnbull, Charles Flavelle, Dave Johnston and Valerie Kritsch.

Category VI, ages 225 and up, went to Babes With Age; Randall Carpenter, Grace Oaks, Andree Janyk and Bob Switzer. The Babes also earned the Dave Murray Award, which goes to the team that best exemplifies Dave Murray’s own values – fun, sportsmanship, and a competitive spirit.

Team Fifi finished second, with Helene Bertrand, Dwayne Himmelsbach, Owen Owens and Herbert Grubel.

The fastest men’s times on Friday belonged to Russell Clark (4:11.47), Tommy Thompson (4:14.15), and Jamie Edwards (4:15.95).

In the women’s races, it was Kim McKnight (4:23.58), Nicole Hale (4:23.98) and Cathryn Zeglinski (4:34.52).

Chris Kent (5:08.93), Chris Gruber (5:12.97) and Phil Beauregard (5:21.44) booked the fastest men’s times on Saturday. The fastest women’s times belonged to Tracy Gibbons (5:43.55), Liz Roehrig-Thompson (5:45.79), and Valerie Kritsch (6:01.27).

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