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Kirshenblatt rolls to GS wins at nationals

Sports briefs: Test of Metal to wrap after 2016
CRUSHING KIRSHENBLATT Whistler Mountain Ski Club's Max Kirshenblatt, shown in action earlier this season, won a pair of races at the U18 Nationals at Georgian Peaks last week. Photo by Steve Fleckenstein

Max Kirshenblatt is a giant slalom killer.

The 17-year-old from Whistler Mountain Ski Club won both GS races at the U18 Nationals at Georgian Peaks to secure the Canadian title.

On Feb. 23, he posted a two-run time of one minute, 35.20 seconds (1:35.20) to best National Ski Academy's Henry Luel by 1.16 seconds and Banff's Kelvin Cochrane by 1.19 seconds.

The second race was closer, as Kirshenblatt was down in 1:37.44, knocking off Toronto's Karl Kuus by 0.23 seconds and Sunshine's Liam Wallace by 0.63 seconds. Fellow Whistler skier Kyle Alexander also made the top 10, placing seventh.

Kirshenblatt placed 15th in the first slalom race, while Whistlerite Kole Harle was eighth in the second slalom.

Kirshenblatt said he was confident coming in, and conditions, at times, reminded him of home.

"I was in a pretty good headspace. The race series before, I skied GS really well and I just stuck to my game plan and it ended up really well," he said. "The first day was a really nice bluebird day and the next day was really foggy. It was kind of like a typical Whistler foggy day."

With smaller hills in Ontario, the courses were shorter, too. Kirshenblatt said explosiveness was a necessary virtue he fortunately possessed.

"There wasn't really any time to fool around or get up to speed. Right out of the gate, you had to be firing with no mistakes on the way down," he said.

The two wins were an encouragement for Kirshenblatt, who suffered his first concussion in December and missed about six weeks.

"I started to pick it up again after January and it's been pretty good since," he said. "I'm completely clear now, but December, it wasn't very good at all."

Next up, he will take part in the Sport Chek Canadian Championships here in Whistler later this month.

As for the women, Katie Fleckenstein hit the top 10 with fifth-place finishes in the first slalom race and the giant slalom.

Crawford takes second at World Juniors in sochi

Whistler Mountain Ski Club (WMSC) member Jack Crawford scored a silver in super-G at the World Junior Championships near Sochi, Russia.

After inclement weather initially postponed the race, the 18-year-old hit the slopes on Feb. 29 and put up a single-run time of one minute, 10.32 seconds (1:10.32) to finish 0.37 seconds back of France's Mathieu Baillet. Whistler's Brodie Seger was 12th.

"My race run was pretty rugged pushing out of the gate. I had a good feeling coming into the first section but had a big mistake coming on the flats, which cost me a lot of time," Crawford told the Alpine Canada website. "Other than that mistake, I got to the bottom in pretty good fashion and came away with my first World Juniors medal."

He posted another strong result on March 1 with a fifth-place finish in the alpine combined.

On the women's side, Valerie Grenier has led the Canadians, winning the Feb. 27 downhill and taking second in the super-G. WMSC's Stefanie Fleckenstein placed 20th in the downhill.

Racing continues until March 5.

Time up for Test of Metal

Squamish's mountain biking calendar will have a few holes to fill in 2017.

Test of Metal Events, which runs four mountain bike races in and around the community, announced on Friday, Feb. 26 that after 21 summers, 2016 would be its final year. That includes the namesake flagship event, which will have its final running on June 18.

Race director and founder Cliff Miller said after pouring 23 years into getting the races going, and other organizers putting in countless hours for well over a decade, they decided it was necessary to move on.

"Plain and simple, it was just time," he said. "We're just tired."

Miller said he and finance director Stewart Kerr first began to consider calling it quits in early February and came to a decision quickly. He also noted they didn't approach anyone to keep the races going.

"Stewart and I went through a bunch of different scenarios and we said 'We should just call it' and we just went from there," Miller said.

The other races included under the Test of Metal include Orecrusher, which will go Apr. 16, GearJammer on May 7 and Just Another Bike Race on Sept. 17.

To register or for more information on the races, visit

Whistlerites victorious at Mount Baker Legendary Banked Slalom

The Sea to Sky corridor was well represented at the Mount Baker Legendary Banked Slalom in Washington state late last month.

Whistler legend Maëlle Ricker was victorious in the pro women category, easily knocking off longtime rival Lindsey Jacobellis of Vermont. Ricker notched a best time of one minute, 46.83 seconds (1:46.83) to best Jacobellis by nearly two seconds. Kelowna's Stephanie Haines placed third.

As for the pro masters men, one Whistlerite made the podium while two were just back. Wes Makepeace took third with a time of 1:48.07 while Rube Goldberg and Kevin Sansalone were both less than a tenth of a second back.

Ken Achenbach snagged third in the grand masters division with a 2:19.93 result, while Pembertonians Chris Ankeny and Gabe Langlois were the top two in the mid masters division with times of 2:13.06 and 2:13.77, respectively.

A corps of younger skiers was impressive as well.

Juliette Pelchat and Maggie Crompton were the top two finishers in the next generation girls division with times of 2:30.72 and 2:31.42, while Caleb Chomlack (2:20.34) placed third for the boys. Finn Finestone was third in the junior boys division with a 2:16.89 showing.

Full results are online at