Emeline Bennett of the Whistler Mountain Ski Club (WMSC) is continuing her town's tradition of ski cross excellence.
Bennett raced to gold on Sunday at the FIS Ski Cross Junior World Championships in Passo San Pellegrino, Italy. This is her first-ever Junior Worlds podium result and her second overall appearance.
“This feels like a culmination of a lot of hard work,” said Bennett in a press release. “We did a lot of video work yesterday, plus we had the opportunity to do two training runs today, so that really helped me dial in my plan. I tried to ski more tactically instead of just going fast, and winning the quarterfinals helped set the tone for the day.
"I tried to treat the finals as just another heat to take some of the pressure off, and everything just kind of went right today.”
With the sun breaking through the clouds in the Italian Dolomites, Bennett won her quarterfinal heat and battled to second in the semifinals before winning it all when it mattered most.
“Emeline did a great job racing today, and she really stuck to the plan,” said Adam Bourns, head coach of the Canadian junior ski cross team. “She was struggling with her starts, so we talked about being patient at the top and then really turning it on at the middle rollers. The team is so happy for her, and this win reinforces the hard work that everyone has put in this season.”
On the men’s side, Konnor Kimball of Edmonton, Alta. won the small finals to place fifth and Whistler's Nicholas Katrusiak ended up ninth. Fellow Whistlerite Jack Morrow was eliminated in the 1/8 heats, as was Calgarian Charlie Lang.
“Super stoked to win the small finals,” said Kimball. “I’ve had a couple of podiums this season, but nothing like this. The racing was tough today, through qualifying and the heats, I was happy to keep advancing. I started to feel the pressure in the semis and my teammates really helped. It’s great to have a team around you to help calm you down. This result means everything, it makes all the training and gym sessions worth it.”
“The team did fantastic today,” added Bourns. “This course is very challenging. You need to be consistent top to bottom, and to be smart with your drafts and passes. There were a lot of personal bests today and of course Emeline winning gold is amazing.”
The FIS Ski Cross Junior World Championships continue with the team event on Tuesday, March 28. The full FIS Junior World Ski Championship schedule can be found here.