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Laura and the Jets soar to Peak to Valley win

Ski racers return from school to top race
TO THE MAX Max Peiffer helped Laura and the Jets to the Peak to Valley Race victory. Photo by Jon Hair/

A quartet of ski racers returned from their various educational pursuits to take on the 2018 Peak to Valley Race.

When the snow settled, Laura and the Jets, featuring Laura Swaffield, Carson Llewellyn, Max Peiffer and Harry Armstrong, topped the 149-and-under category and the race overall.

Llewellyn and Swaffield are currently attending the University of Western Ontario and Peiffer and Armstrong stayed a little closer to home, as both attend the University of Victoria.

Peiffer explained that the race was not only a chance to reconnect with some old friends, but to recall their glory days, when standing in the gate was a regular occurrence.

"For us, all of us being ex-ski-racers, it was a lot of fun to come back and relive what we had before," Peiffer said. "All of us had gone our separate ways going to university."

Llewellyn said it was his mother who had the idea he should race Peak to Valley on her friends' team. He decided to race, but with some friends instead. Sure enough, he realized they could form a fearsome foursome with other skiers during reading week. As it turns out, the crew got its registration submitted in the nick of time.

"We were the last team to get a spot," Llewellyn said. "We were super excited, made a team, everybody was all over it."

The race gave Peiffer the chance to bust out some 27-metre-radius, 188-centimetre skis he hadn't used since he raced U16. They helped him put up Friday's top time by over two seconds over Roman Torn, but it wasn't an easy descent.

"It was pretty interesting. Carson and I started third- and second-last (respectively, on Friday) and the weather was brutal," he said. "It was snowing with high winds and we couldn't see the surface for the first four gates. Skiing down, we were pretty tentative, but when we got underneath the Peak Chair, we had some covering and could actually see the ground."

Llewellyn said while he hadn't been in racing gear or at a start gate for years, it all worked out OK.

"I was a little nervous, but once everything was underway and we were on course, it all came back. We've been doing it for so long that it's just muscle memory," he said.

The overall runners-up, NZ Foundation Team (Kara Delaney, Robert Brudar, Brian Bennett and Jordy Norris), were also second to Laura and the Jets in their age category, while 200-to-224 champion Barry the Rooster (Kent Wills, Friday's fastest woman, Liz Thompson, Steve Fleckenstein and Saturday's fastest man, Robbie Dixon) was third overall.

Other age-group champions were: Comor's Cuttin' Corners (Carlos Strachan, Mike Hashimoto, Bryce Anderson and Chanel Smythe) in the 150-to-174 event; Blue Ice Wrecking Crew (Dave Johnston, Tommy Thompson, Saturday's fastest woman, Sofi Leroux, and Rob Boyd) in the 175-to-199 division; 3 NB'ers and 1 PQ'er (Joan Wilson, Jim Cuttle, Wayne Flann and Greg Dixon) in the 225-to-249 category; and Team Spirit (Kary Firstbrook, Geordie Trusler, John Townsend and Brian Cameron) in the 250-and-beyond event.

Complete results are available at