The annual Whistler Peak to Valley Race is one of those events where it gets harder the less time you spend getting from A to B, as lactic acid builds up and the load on your muscles goes up. Holding edges and carving the courses' 180 gates gets progressively harder until the athletes are literally screaming when then reach the finish line, 1,440 vertical metres down the mountain.
That's why it comes as no surprise that Davey Barr, Stan Rey, Aleisha Cline and Julia Murray - all recent members of the Canadian Ski Cross Team, posted some of the fastest times on both days of the event. While ski cross racers never race competition courses as long, racers can take as many as five runs of a course in a single day of competition - something that takes a lot of training and endurance to get through.
The Peak to Valley took place over two days with teams of four competing for the fastest times in their combined age categories. Because the snow conditions can change hugely from day to day, two members of each team race on each day. As well, the event is co-ed, and every foursome has to have at least one female member.
The course itself is around 5km long from top to bottom, although with all the twists and turns around 180 GS gates it's actually longer. Top speeds are hard to measure, but the top female athletes averaged over 50km per hour and some of the men averaged around 60km/h.
On Friday, former ski cross champion Aleisha Cline posted the fastest time, cleaning the course in 5:54.63. Kokanee Valley Race Series regular and competitive cyclist Liz Thompson was second in 5:58:51 and Joan Wilson third in 6:03.48. Rounding out the top 10 were Mackenzie Irwin in 6:05.48, Akiko Takemoto in 6:42.01, Kelly Jackson in 6:42.35, Andre Janyk in 6:46.40, Marta Smoll in 6:49.63, Victoria Fenninger in 6:50.02 and Jennifer Adrill Wilson in 6:54.20.
Stan Rey, a national level ski racer before he got into ski cross, posted the fastest time for the men after clearing the course in 5:14.98. Ryan Oughtred, a former World Cup technical racer, was second in 5:22.39, and Marcus Waring, a racer turned freeskier, was third in 5:25.33. Phil Beauregard and Rob Boyd were fourth and fifth respectively in 5:29.98 and 5:30.27, with Clay Dolan placing sixth in 5:34.11, Luke Dolan seventh in 5:35.19, James McSkimming eighth in 5:44.16, Anthony Jira ninth in 5:47.73 and Eric Rey 10th in 5:48.05.
On the second day, national team skier Madison McLeish, who is home while recovering from an injury, posted a very speedy time of 5:13.42, followed by Julia Murray in 5:19.74 and Leslie Firstbrook in 5:24.93. Rounding out the top 10 were Janine Linder Joris in 5:32.50, Brittany McGovern in 5:33.00, Kary Firstbrook in 5:41.92, Astrid Grandi in 5:42.70, Wendy Harrison in 5:42.70, Julia Vagelatos in 5:58.98 and Michelle Dehne 10th in 6:00.14.
Davey Barr won the men's event on Saturday in 4:57.38, followed by provincial ski cross coach and former World Cup racers Chris Kent in 5:06.97 and Ben Sittel in 5:16.19. Rounding out the top 10 were Jayme Smithers in 5:16.48, John Muzzillo in 5:23.46, Rob Brudar in 5:23.73, Richard Potter in 5:25.43, John Kindree in 5:28.27, Matt Macartney in 5:28.60 and Takamine Kato in 5:29.15.
Team Results (Top 3 only):
Category VI - 250 years and up
1. Wild Eastern Flyers - Lloyd Henderson, Lou Fenninger, Joy Fera and Bob Deeks - 25:16.88
2. Jules Jewels - Jules Lajoie, Butch White, Bernard Kahlert and Terry Daly - 25:56.73
3. Babes with Age - Grace Oaks, David Trussler, Randall Carpenter and Irene Collins - 27:05.28
Category V - 225-249
1. Team Spirit - Brian Cameron, John Townsend, Geordie Trusler and Kary Firstbrook - 24:16.75
2. Wilsons Wigglers - Chris Sadler, Michael Owen, Grant Wilson and Jane Wilson - 25:41.30
3. Legacy Cruisers - Andre Janyk, Christopher Vajda, Ted Astels and Neil Baker - 25:46.19
Category IV - 200-224
1. Barry the Rooster - Steve Fleckenstein, Liz Thompson, Dave Johnston and Ken Wills - 23:02.03
2. Raven Madness - Peter Lyall, Jamie Edwards, Robert Mitchell and Wendy Harrison - 23:38.67
3. Menage a Quartre - Akiko Takemoto, Don Hosek, Ed Russell and John Muzzillo - 25:42.45
Category III - 175-199
1. Toes First - Tony Callen, Maureen Vlases, Matt Macartney and Bill Vlases - 25:01.32
2. Osler Kiltlifters - Doug Carter, Chris Boswell, Denise Holleran Boswell and Leslie Firstbrook - 25:06.46
3. Blackcomb Goldiggers - Mark Crawford, Victoria Fenninger, Richard Potter and Bob Mayer - 25:30.71.
Category II - 150-174
1. Spicy Agadashi Tofus - Rob Boyd, Aleisha Cline, Madison McLeish and Chris Kent - 21:45.29
2. Hoopla - Ryan Oughtred, Phil Beauregard, Astrid Grandi and Jayme Smithers - 21.51:55
3. Swiss Movement - Eric Rey, Stan Rey, Janine Linder Joris and Takamine Kato - 22:04.68
Category I - 149 and Under
1. Capital Home Energy - Luke Dolan, Clay Dolan, Julia Murray and Davey Barr - 21:26.42
2. All Waynes Children - James McSkimming, Marcus Waring, Wayne Flann and Jennie Small - 23:27.89
3. Blaze of Glory - Justin Ammerlaan, Francois Hebert, Matthew Dobson and Valerie Lees - 25:11.43
Complete results are available online at www.whistlerblackcomb.com/events-and-activities/events-calendar/events/2013/02/peak-to-valley-race.aspx.