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K1 racers on top at Cypress

It was cold, the visibility changed every five minutes, and the snow was soft enough to carve deep ruts into.

It was cold, the visibility changed every five minutes, and the snow was soft enough to carve deep ruts into. While the conditions were challenging at the Merrill Lynch K1 slalom races at Cypress Mountain last weekend, it was nothing that the Whistler Mountain Ski Club racers hadn’t seen before.

WMSC racers competed in three slalom events, two on Saturday and one on Sunday. The girls team won seven out of nine medals, and the boys won three of nine; they also took the lion’s share of spots in the top 15. One WMSC racer, Jennifer Mah, came away with three gold medals to lead the team. Kyle Coxon was the best male with two golds and a bronze.

"After seeing the replay of Salé and Pelletier’s amazing but unrewarded (pairs) figure skating performance on day three of the Olympics, I am glad that we did well last weekend on Cypress," said head K1 coach Sead Causevic. "And wow. We did well last weekend on Cypress."

While the big ruts made it more like a bobsled course, "at least that’s a timed sport, too," he said.

"None of these adverse conditions stopped the Whistler contingent from their strong slalom performance. I can’t explain how excited I was to see the kids doing so well with minimal slalom training. We had a couple of falls and disqualifications, but all of the K1s managed to put in a good effort and my congratulations go out to everyone."

A number of local K1 athletes (age 11 and 12) will be racing the provincial championships in March, and the top performers will represent Zone 5, Vancouver-Squamish, at the B.C. Winter Games from Feb. 21 to 24 at Williams Lake.

"The team is taking a step back in intensity and will be doing some work on the basics," said Causevic. "We will then slowly increase the tempo leading up to (the provincial championships). Hopefully the weather will co-operate, as well we will be switching up our training site at home. I have requested some more challenging terrain for training on Whistler-Blackcomb."

A dozen WMSC skiers qualified for the B.C. Winter Games, including Marayna Shuker, Jennifer Mah, Alison Matasi, Katrina Dekur, Christina Disler, Deborah Bayliess, Sarah Marshall, Carolyn Caldwell, Morgan Pridy, Kieran Cormack, Scott Harrison and North Jones.

In the first slalom on Saturday morning, WMSC skier Jennifer Mah won the gold medal with a time of 40.74 seconds. Georgia Simmerling of Grouse Mountain was second in 41.10, and Christina Disler, of the WMSC was third in 42.34.

Ten other Whistler skiers cracked the top 15, including Deborah Bayliss in fourth, Katrina Dekur in fifth, Sara Berkes in sixth, Carolyn Caldwell in eighth, Meriel Gibson in ninth, Hatti Guadagnuolo in 10th, Catherine Rose in 11th, Marayna Shuker in 12th, Brittany McGovern in 13th, and Sarah Ho in 15th.

In the first men’s slalom, Whistler’s Kyle Coxon took the win in 42.68, ahead of Jesse Kliman of Mount Washington and Hamish Davidson of Grouse Mountain. Also cracking the top 10 were Morgan Pridy in fifth, North Jones in 10 th , Daniel Penn in 11 th and Ben MacLean in 15 th .

Jennifer Mah won again in the afternoon with a time of 39.65, finishing one-one-hundredth of a second faster than Georgia Simmerling of Grouse. Whistler’s Alison Matasi was a close third.

Whistler skiers captured eight of the remaining 12 spots; Christina Disler was fourth, Deborah Bayliss fifth, Katrina Dekur sixth, Meriel Gibson seventh, Sara Berkes eighth, Catherine Rose ninth, Sarah Marshall 10th, and Emma Baker 14th.

In the men’s afternoon race, the gold medal went to Michael Lake of the Mt. Seymour team in 41.71. Jesse Kliman of Mt. Washington was second in 42.06, and Kyle Coxon of Whistler third in 42.30.

Five other Whistler skiers made it into the top 15; Kieran Cormack, Daniel Penn and Zachary Nash in ninth through 11 th , David Sandberg in 13 th , and North Jones in 15 th .

In the two-run slalom competition on the following day, Whistler swept the podium with Jennifer Mah winning gold with a total time of 1:19.59, Alison Matasi taking silver in 1:21.22, and Christina Disler taking bronze in 1:23.72.

Katrina Dekur was fourth, Deborah Bayliss fifth, Sarah Marshall eighth, Sara Berkes 10 th , Carolyn Caldwell 11 th , Meriel Gibson 12 th , Victoria Whitney 14 th and Hatti Guadagnuolo 15 th .

Kyle Coxon won the men’s race with a total time of 1:24.95, followed by Michael Lake of Seymour and Jamie Bridge of Mt. Washington. Also in the top 15 were Morgan Pridy in fifth, Ben MacLean, Sam Gibson, Kieran Cormack and Daniel Penn in seventh through 10 th , and Scott Harrison in 14 th .