Skiers in last weekend's 17th annual Whistler Cup races saw every type of condition over three days of racing, with sun, snow, rain, fog and constantly changing course conditions. Whistler skiers, as familiar with the runs as they were with the conditions, made a huge impact with three podiums in the K2 category, and both overall awards as the top Canadians.
Broderick Thompson earned the Dave Murray Award as top Canadian male with a gold medal in the super G race, a bronze in the slalom and a seventh place finish in the giant slalom. Meanwhile, Kailee Darlington earned the Nancy Greene Award as top Canadian female with a silver medal in super G, and an eighth place result in GS.
Thompson, who also won the Dave Murray Award as a K1 in 2007, was happy with his weekend, and is hoping to move up to the B.C. Ski Team next year as a FIS racer.
"I just raced as hard as I could every day," he said. "I know the course, they did a great job with the conditions, and we trained all week to get ready."
Thompson and Darlington were both named to Team Canada after the nationals the previous week, and were able to participate in an Iris-sponsored camp with national level coaches in the week prior to the Whistler Cup. Thompson welcomed the training opportunity, as well as the opportunity to improve his seeding in the Whistler Cup races.
"I really wanted to get a good start position because you never know how the course is going to hold up at this time of the year," he said.
Thompson is also happy with the way he's been racing speed events this year, although he doesn't have a preference. "Slalom used to be my best event, but I seem to be doing really well in the speed events this year. " he said.
Darlington came into the race still shaken up after a crash at the national championships where she injured her arm, but she wasn't looking for any excuses. She set out to be the top Canadian in every race and was happy with her results.
"The nationals are a big deal, but this is the biggest race of the season so it definitely feels good to be able to step up in a few races," she said.
"The Iris camp helped a lot, I think, and we've all been pretty much racing straight for two weeks leading up to this so it's also nice to see the work pay off. You always have higher expectations when you're racing at home, even if it is against girls from all over the world.
"This is my last year as a K2, and I'm excited to move up to the next level and try out for the B.C. Ski Team next year, and hopefully work my way up to a World Cup spot (and chance at the Olympics) in 2014."
The Canadian K2 team placed second to the U.S. team for the second straight year, while the Canadian K1 team placed first. However, when the K1 and K2 results were combined Canadians took the overall team title this year. The Canadians last claimed the Whistler Cup title in 2007.
National teams entered in the Whistler Cup included six K2 and four K1 racers, both men and women, and only top-15 results would count towards the overall standings.
The Whistler Cup opened on Friday, with K2 super G and K1 slalom.
In super G, Bara Strakova of the Czech Republic placed first in a time of 1:07.54, followed closely by Kailee Darlington's time of 1:07.89. Mikaela Shiffrin of the U.S. was third in 1:08.54. Devon Clarke and Mary Beth Hemphill of Ontario rounded out the top five. Emma King of the Whistler Mountain Ski Club was 30 th out of 87 starters.
Broderick Thompson dominated the men's race with his time of 1:06.47, more than a second faster than the next competitor. Thomas Robles and Eric Haferman, both of the U.S., were second and third in 1:07.54 and 1:07.55 respectively. Jak Kennedy of Ontario and Mikael Svensk of Finland tied for fourth in 1:07.87. Logan Pehota was 27 th out of 95 racers.
In K1 slalom, Nea Luukko of Finland won the women's race with a two-run time of 1:09.28, with Veronika Camkova of Czech Republic second with a time of 1:09.44. Whistler's Kelly Steeves, racing for Canada, tied for third with Zuzana Koniarova of Slovakia in 1:11.22. Emma Swaffield, competing for the B.C. team, placed 15 th in 1:13.77, while Stefanie Fleckenstein of the WMSC placed 30 th out of 80 racers with a time of 1:20.39.
In the K1 men's race, Samuel Senkar of Slovakia posted the top time of 1:09.04 with Revelstoke's Lachlan Hicks and Chris Doan of Ontario - both racing for Canada - placing second and third in 1:10.56 and 1:10.95 respectively.
The Whistler Mountain Ski Club's Marc Leroux made up for a late start position to move up to eighth place in 1:12.26. Alexander Cameron also cracked the top-30 of 84 racers in 28 th in 1:16.88.
Day two was the K2 slalom and K1 giant slalom. In K2 women, Mikaela Shiffrin of the U.S. and Bara Strakova of Czech Republic picked up their second medals of the weekend, finishing first and second with times of 1:36.59 and 1:36.63 respectively. Paula Moltzan of the U.S. was third in 1:37.32, with Kelly Moore of Ontario fourth in 1:37.86, and Nikki Verbon of The Netherlands fifth in 1:39.75. Rae Swette was the top Whistler racer in 28 th place in 1:48.64. Kailee Darlington disqualified in her first run.
For the men, Max Luukko of Finland was first in 1:38.04, followed by Daniel Duffy of the U.S. in 1:37.70 and Broderick Thompson in 1:37.73. Whistler's John McIver was 29 th , finishing in 1:43.98.
In the K1 giant slalom Asa Ando of Japan was first in 1:39.68, followed by Nea Luukko of Finland in 1:40.26 and Roni Remme of Ontario. Kelly Steeves was 10 th with a time of 1:44.11. From Whistler, Emma Swaffield was 16 th , Elisabeth Kepl 21 st and Mikayla Martin 22 nd .
Keiya Saito and Shun Okumura of Japan were first and second in the men's GS, followed by Dean Travers of the Caymen Islands. Whistler's Riley Seger, representing the B.C. team, was eighth in 1:45.15, while the WMSC's Dalton Pehota was the top club racer in 13 th in 1:46.08. Also in the top-30 were Samuel Kirshenblatt in 21 st place in 1:47.95, and Marc Leroux in 25th in 1:48.68.
The final day featured the K2 giant slalom and K1 Kombi event, with snow only allowing for one run in each event. Czech Bara Strakova and American Mickaela Shiffrin earned their third medals finishing first and third with one-run times of 55.63 and 56.07 respectively. Paula Moltzan of the U.S. was second in 55.84. Devon Clarke was the top Canadian, in fourth place, and Kailee Darlington tied for eighth with Hyun-Gi Lee of Korea.
Finland's Mikael Svensk won the men's GS in 56.02, followed by Shogo Arai of Japan in 56.05 and Max Luukko of Finland in 56.32.
Gabriel Presseault was the top Canadian, in sixth place, with Broderick Thompson seventh in 57.56.
In K1 Kombi, Roni Remme took the win for Canada in 45.97, followed by Asa Ando of Japan and Emilie McNeil of Alberta in 46.87 and 47.88 respectively. Whistler's Rachel Vander Veen was 11 th in 50.47, Emma Swaffield 21 st in 51.76, Stefanie Fleckenstein 24 th in 52.13, and Elisabeth Kepl 28 th in 52.45.
Chris Doan of Canada won the men's race in 54.92, followed by Keiya Saito of Japan and Fedor Myagkov of Russia. Jack Iles was the top Whistler racer in 27 th in 50.82.
Complete results are available online at www.whistlercup.com.
For the Record
In last week's story about the K2 national championships, the writer said that athletes from the Whistler Mountain Ski Club went to the Westerns and then the nationals, but in fact two different teams attended those events based on their results in the provincials. The exception was Sofi Leroux, who went to Westerns, then the nationals as an alternate.