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New sponsor for Whistler Cup

Sports briefs: New career best for Alexander; Three medals for Canadians at Nakiska; Gaskell podiums in Italy
NEW NAME Canada will look to defend its title at the O2E Brands Whistler Cup this April. <ParaStyle:CUTLINE\:CUTLINE Credit>File photo by Dan Falloon

The Whistler Cup revealed a new naming rights sponsor on Jan. 21.

O2E Brands was revealed as the new title sponsor of the race, which will run this year from April 16 to 19.

Race director Christine Cogger could not confirm how long the agreement is set to last, though she did call it a "significant relationship."

Alexander sets new career best

Whistler Mountain Ski Club (WMSC) alumnus Cameron Alexander cracked his first-ever FIS World Cup top-30 at Wengen, Switzerland on Jan. 18.

Racing the downhill, Alexander cruised to a 19th-place finish while wearing bib no. 42, coming in 1.57 seconds back of winner Beat Feuz of Switzerland. Italy's Dominik Paris was second while Germany's Thomas Dressen took third.

"It feels really good to go out today and grab my first World Cup points. It's definitely a real confidence boost going into the rest of the season and I can't wait to try and keep it rolling next week in Kitzbühel," Alexander said in a release.

Other Canadian finishers included Ben Thomsen in 28th, Alexander's fellow WMSC alum James Crawford in 38th, Jeffrey Read in 48th and Sam Mulligan in 54th.

Canucks failed to complete two runs in the weekends two other races.

In the Alpine combined on Jan. 17, Austria's Matthias Meyer topped Frenchmen Alexis Pinturault and Victor Muffat-Jeandet for the win, while in the slalom on Jan. 19, France's Clement Noel came in ahead of Norway's Henrik Kristoffersen and Russia's Alexander Khoroshilov.

On the women's side, Erin Mielzynski skied to a 30th-place finish in the parallel giant slalom in Sestriere, Italy on Jan. 19. Clara Direz of France secured the win while Austria's Elisa Moerzinger and Italy's Marta Bassino rounded out the podium. No Canadians completed two runs in the Jan. 18 giant slalom. Italy's Federica Brignone and Slovakia's Petra Vlhova tied for the win while American Mikaela Shiffrin was just 0.01 seconds back.

Three medals for Canadians at Nakiska

Reece Howden's first career FIS World Cup win led the Canadian charge during ski-cross action on home soil at Nakiska Ski Area on Jan. 18.

Howden shared the podium with fellow Canuck Kevin Drury, who placed second, and Germany's Daniel Bohnacker in third.

"I tried to ski as hard as I could out of the gate on each run and ski better than the people next to me. In the finals, I just treated it like all the other heats of the day. It didn't sink in until the last feature that I was en route to a win! This is huge," Howden said in a release.

Brady Leman, meanwhile, won the small final and took fifth overall, while Kristofor Mahler was 14th, Christopher Del Bosco placed 31st, Gavin Rowell took 32nd, Carson Cook placed 35th, Ned Ireland notched 37th, Callum McEwen scored 39th and Phillip Tremblay was 40th.

As for the women, Britanny Phelan hit the podium in second behind Sandra Naeslund of Sweden, while Fanny Smith of Switzerland took third. Whistler's Marielle Thompson won the small final and ended up in fifth while Abby McEwen scored ninth, India Sherret was 14th, Zoe Chore ended up 15th, Antoinette Tansley finished 16th and Alexa Velcic placed 17th.

Peiffer starts FWT season in 11th

Whistler Freeride Club alum Tom Peiffer kicked off the 2020 Freeride World Tour season in the middle of the pack.

Peiffer placed 11th in the 23-competitor ski men's field in the first event of the year at Hakuba, Japan. American Drew Tabke earned the win, topping New Zealand's Hank Bilous and Sweden's Reine Barkered.

Gaskell podiums at Seiser Alm

Canadian Elena Gaskell claimed the third FIS World Cup podium appearance of her young career at Seiser Alm, Italy, on Jan. 18.

The 18-year-old took a third-place finish in the slopestyle competition, scoring a 79.68 to finish 6.45 points back of winner Caroline Claire of the United States. Norway's Johanne Killi, meanwhile, was sandwiched between the pair in second place.

The only other Canadian on the women's side, Olivia Asselin, finished in 15th.

As for the men, Etienne Geoffroy Gagnon was the top Canadian, posting a solid sixth-place finish. Norway's Birk Ruud held off Switzerland's Fabian Boesch and Colby Stevenson of the United States for the victory. Other Canadians in action were: Edouard Therriault (27th); Noah Porter McLennan (28th); and Mark Hendrickson (32nd).

Canadian bobsledders narrowly off World Cup podium

The Canadian bobsleigh duo of Christine de Bruin and Kristen Bujnowski was just out of the medals in IBSF World Cup action at Innsbruck, Austria on Jan. 18.

The pair finished 0.26 seconds back of winners Mariama Jamanka and Annika Drazek of Germany and just 0.04 back of third-place finishers Kaillie Humphries and Sylvia Hoffmann of the United States. Laura Nolte and Erline Nolte of Germany were second. Two other Canadian sleds competed, with Cynthia Appiah and Dawn Edith Richardson Wilson taking 10th and Melissa Lotholz and Janine McCue ending up 15th.

On the men's side, the Justin Kripps-piloted sled finished fifth in the four-man contest on Jan. 19. The foursome was 0.69 seconds back of the German sled, piloted by Francesco Friedeich, which earned the win. Johannes Lochner's German team was second, while American Hunter Church slid into third.

The top-five was a bounce-back for Kripps, who finished 12th with Benjamin Coakwell in the two-man race on Jan. 18. Friedrich and Thorsten Margis scored the victory, while Great Britain's Brad Hall and Greg Cackett were second and Germany's Richard Oelsner and Tobias Schneider wound up third.

In skeleton action, meanwhile, Mirela Rahneva posted the best Canadian result of the weekend, taking seventh in the women's race on Jan. 17, 0.59 seconds back of winner Jacqueline Loelling of Germany. Austria's Janine Flock took second and American Megan Henry placed third. Other Canadians included North Vancouver's Jane Channell in 13th and Madison Charney in 17th.

The Canadian men struggled, with Kyle Murray and Kevin Boyer taking 23rd and 24th, respectively. Latvia's Martins Dukurs earned the victory over South Korea's Sungbin Yun and Russia's Alexander Tretiakov.

WMSC skiers podium twice at Panorama

Whistler Mountain Ski Club's (WMSC) competitors scored a pair of medals and nearly had more during four days of FIS racing at Panorama Mountain Resort for Jan. 9 to 12.

Both podium appearances came on Day 2, with Julia Ross taking third in the women's giant slalom and Ryuji Gaman taking third for the men, with WMSC grad and BC Ski Team member Tait Jordan won the latter.

Both Ross and Gaman were the top WMSC reps in the Day 1 giant slalom as both took fourth, while Jordan was second among men.

In the slalom on Day 3, Alyssa Emery was the top WMSC women's rep in fifth while Kosuke Akita led the men in ninth. WMSC grad Nathan Romanin won the men's race while Jordan placed second.

In the final day of racing, another slalom, Ross and Gaman once again led the team, taking fifth and seventh, respectively. Romanin and Jordan were again the top two finishers in the men's contest.

Zeglinski earns Athlete of the Year nomination

Whistler mountain biker Cathy Zeglinski is up for an award at the Sport BC Athlete of the Year Awards in March.

Zeglinski was nominated for Master Athlete of the Year alongside Sooke track and field athlete Myrtle Acton and Sidney triathlete Keith Evans.

Zeglinski won her age division at the UCI Mountain Bike Masters World Championships at Mont Ste. Anne, Que. in August.

The awards will be handed out on March 12 at the Vancouver Convention Centre.