Trevor Bruce, Hilary Lindh claim inaugural wins
It was a wide cross-section of alpine skiers that turned out to the inaugural Power Vitamins Cup event on the Upper Dave Murray last week, from young up and coming racers to former World Cup stars, including one former world champion and Olympic silver medallist. At the end of the day the prize money didnt go to youth or experience, but to consistency two solid runs with as few errors as possible.
The Power Vitamins Cup series is in its first year, with dual ski racing events at Whistler, Blue Mountain and St. Sauveur. In a dual race, skiers compete head-to-head against each other over two runs, and the skier with the fastest combined time advances to the next round. There are divisions for both pro and amateur men and women.
The turnout for the Whistler race was less than organizers had hoped for, but given a few limiting factors a short time to promote the event and a Jan. 1 race day they were happy with the 50-strong field.
"We had a limited time to promote it, and a strange date to contend with, but it went pretty well," said organizer and competitor Chris Kent. "The sponsors are happy, it was a good event, and the enthusiasm of the competitors was great. We really did have fun with it."
Kent, a former member of the national team and a top competitor in local ski races, was not as happy with his own performance in the race. He made it past the first round of elimination only to face Jamie Finlayson, a Whistler Mountain Ski Club athlete who is gunning for a spot on the national team. Finlayson also went on to finish second overall.
"The conditions were great, but I wasnt really dialled in as far as my own skiing went. I had some trouble getting the rhythm and getting in the harder part of the ruts.
"If you were in the hard part of the rut you could gain speed coming out of the turns, but if you wound up in the soft snow on the outside, youd go a little wider, and would lose speed. And if you went wide around one gate, youd go wide three or four gates in a row."
Kent was happy to give Finlayson a run for his money, but would have done a few things differently out of the gate if he had to go back and do it again.
"You can do a lot of different things out there, and one of them is to take a few risks coming out of the gate to take an early lead, and maybe force your opponent to catch up and make a mistake. Jamie had a couple of perfect runs, really solid, so it might not have worked, but thats why dual is such a good event. We dont get to race it very much, so theres a lot more strategy out there and the older guys can compete against the young skiers."
The mens pro category, and a cheque for $3,000, went to Trevor Bruce, a star on the UBC Ski Team. Bruce edged out Finlayson in two close runs. Finlayson settled for second place money of $1,500.
Paul Boskovich, another Whistler Mountain Ski Club (WMSC) alumnus was third, edging out WMSC coach Sead Causevic in the small finals. They received $500 and $125 respectively.
In the womens dual races, the win went to Pembertons Hilary Lindh. If the name sounds familiar, think back to the 1992 Winter Games in Albertville, France she won a silver medal in the downhill for Team USA. She continued to be one of the most dominant North America skiers on the World Cup circuit through the 90s, winning the World Championships in 1997.
Lindh earned $2,000 for her efforts in the Power Vitamins Cup, edging out Whistlers Ashleigh McIvor in the last round. McIvor, one of the leading skier cross athletes in Canada, was solid all day in edging past a strong core of skiers, including former World Cup athletes, to make the finals. That effort was worth $1,000.
Kayla Benbow, another Whistler skier, edged out Kim McNight in the small finals to finish third. She earned $250 and McNight $125.
The mens recreational category was strongly contested as well. Steve Fleckenstein took the top spot, followed by Rob Cook in second. Jay Symmons edged out Rick Doran in the small final to finish third.
The next stop on the Power Vitamins Cup tour is at Mont Saint Sauveur, Quebec, on Feb. 21, followed by a race at Blue Mountain in Collingwood, Ontario on March 20. You can register online for any of these races at www.powervitaminscup.com.
Kent hopes that the series will grow, and that Whistler will become the final event on a calendar that includes events from coast to coast.
"Were hoping it can evolve into something big," he said.