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Sports briefs

XC skiers come up flat

After a solid start to the season the Canadian cross-country team came up flat in Finland last week, failing to finish in the top 30 of any event.

On the men's side, Alex Harvey was the top Canadian in 55 th in the 1.4 km classic sprint, an event the Norwegian team dominated with first, second and fourth place results.

In the 15 km classic Ivan Babikov was the top Canadian, in 38 th place, although to be fair it was a tough race and he finished less than 26 seconds back of the winner. Norway again took gold with Russian skiers placing second and third. American Kris Freeman placed fourth and missed the podium by 2.2 seconds.

In the women's 1.2 km classic sprint Sara Renner was the top Canadian, in 42 nd position, while the podium went to skiers from Poland, Slovenia and Slovakia. Renner also led the way in the 10 km classic, placing 39 th . Finland, Russia and Norway claimed the top three spots.


B.C. Snowboard holding tryouts

The B.C. Snowboard Association is hosting tryouts for the provincial development team Saturday, Dec. 5 at Big White, the home base of the provincial program.

There are a limited number of spaces available for riders aged 13 to 18. The benefits include a chance to work with coaches, chances to compete at FIS-sanctioned events and support at contests.

To take part contact development team head coach Matt Galina at 250-718-5940.

The team trains at Big White on Saturdays and Sundays, but in the past the team has accepted riders from Whistler and other regions.


Halfpipe team heading to Copper

The Canadian halfpipe team is en route to Copper Mountain, Colorado where they will take part in the first event of the U.S. Grand Prix series Dec. 9-12. Because the contest takes place in a halfpipe with regulation 21-foot walls the results will count towards the Canadian Snowboard Federation's team selection for February's Olympic Games.

Given how U.S. riders have dominated in Olympic halfpipe the last three Games, it's also a chance for Canadian riders to size up the competition. As well, the events traditionally attract the top European and Japanese riders. It's believed that the Chinese team will also make an appearance.

The halfpipe World Cup schedule does not resume until the Dec. 18-19 contest in Arosa, Switzerland, followed by a contest in Austria in the New Year.

The alpine snowboard season is also on hiatus after next weekend's races were cancelled at Limone Piemonte, Italy due to lack of snow. The snowboardcross team won't be back on snow until late December.


Coast Cup season kicks off at Olympic Park

The registration deadline for the first Coast Cup cross country races of the season is approaching, with online sign-up finishing on Dec. 10 for the Dec. 13 races at Whistler Olympic Park.

There are competitive categories for all ages, age 5 and up, with course distances that range from one kilometre for the youngest skiers to five kilometres for the open men's and women's races. It's a free technique race, so competitors can use either classic or freestyle skis, and the cost of registration ranges from $6 to $18 depending on the age group.

The Hollyburn Jackrabbit Cross Country Ski Club is the official host sponsor of the event.

Online registration is available at


Register early and save at Park Rider Sessions

Calling all jibbers, grinders and sliders - the annual Park Rider Sessions presented by Telus will kick off the 2009-2010 season with a rail jam on Sunday, Dec. 13. The location is still to be set. Advance registration is available at Whistler Blackcomb Guest Relations. If you register before the day of the event you pay $26, while day of event registration is available for $30 at either the Roundhouse Lodge on Whistler or Rendezvous Lodge on Blackcomb.

Park Rider Sessions events are open to skiers and snowboarders of all ages, although minors need a waiver signed by a parent or guardian to take part. Helmets are mandatory and mouth guards are strongly recommended. Other protective gear - e.g. shin pads, tailbone protectors - can also come in handy riding the rails.

Other events to watch for include the second Park Rider Sessions event, a slopestyle on Sunday, Dec. 27 and the first King of the Rail contest on Dec. 30.


Kokanee Valley Race Series off to a giant start

The annual Kokanee Valley Race Series is gearing up for a Thursday, Dec. 17 start with a giant slalom on a slope to be named later.

The race series is open to skiers, snowboarders and telemarkers aged 19 and older, with a total of six events planned for 2009-2010 - two fewer than previous years as a result of the Olympics hiring events crews for the month of February.

You can register in advance for $26 at Whistler Blackcomb Guest Relations, although day of race registration is also available for $30 on race day. A pass to all six events is available for $126.

This year racers have the opportunity to pick either the pro or amateur classes, with cash prizes in the pro categories based on the number of entries. All participants are eligible to win draw prizes, including a pair of Atomic skis.

To help racers get used to carving gates the GMC Race Centre is opening on Monday, Dec. 14 on Blackcomb Mountain with two courses if you want to race your friends to the bottom.


G rade 4 and 5 snow passes now available

Getting kids into skiing and snowboarding is a lot more affordable for families through the Canadian Ski Council's Grade 4 and Grade 5 SnowPass program, which is accepting applications for the season this week.

The program works at more than 150 ski resorts throughout Canada, with each offering a variety of discounts on lift tickets, lessons, ski and snowboard rentals and other incentives to participants. Registration for the pass is online at


Strong finish to November for Wolf Pack

The month of November wrapped up like it started for the Squamish Wolf Pack after Saturday's 5-4 shootout win over the Aldergrove Kodiaks. It was the team's third win in five games, with two wins over the Kodiaks and a 5-1 win over the Delta Ice Hawks, their conference rivals. Whistler's Josh Shaurboeck was a first star in one of those games with a goal and an assist to his credit.

Their two losses were in shootouts against the Mission Icebreakers on Nov. 22 and a 4-3 loss against the league-leading Richmond Sockeyes - the Junior B national champions from last year.

The team is also having no trouble finding the net lately, racking up 22 goals in their last five games while allowing 17.

December in an important month for the Wolf Pack with five of eight games against teams from the rival Harold Brittain Conference where the Wolf Pack typically has better luck. Two of the strongest teams in the league this year are in their division with Richmond on top and the North Delta Devils close behind.

Unfortunately the month didn't start well with the fourth place Delta Ice Hawks edging out the Wolf Pack 3-2 on Tuesday. A win would have put the Wolf Pack just four points back of Delta instead of the current eight, a swing of four points resting on a single game.

They play the Abbotsford Pilots on Friday, Dec. 4, then come home on Saturday night to host the Pitt Meadows Flames at 7:15 p.m. Tickets are $8 at the door or $5 for seniors and youth.