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Local skiers on top of Velocity Challenge

Kim McKnight and husband Ken Peterson win respective speed skiing categories

Every year the crews at Sun Peaks Resort send a groomer down one of the steepest black diamond runs on the mountain, flattening the moguls to lay the course for the annual Sun Peaks Velocity Challenge and FIS World Cup.

The race itself is over in less than 10 seconds, with skiers reaching speeds of more than 160 km/h before slamming on the brakes in the finish area.

Chief of Race Adam Earle summed it up nicely: "Racers accelerated from zero to 160 km/h in eight seconds and 160 km/h to 0 in five seconds – faster acceleration and braking than most sports cars."

There were two World Cup races, one on Saturday and one on Sunday.

Teria Davis, a Sun Peaks local, won the first day, but it was Whistler’s Kim McKnight, second on the first day, who emerged with a win on day two, taking the unlimited title for the second year in a row with her highest clocked speed of 161.7 km/h. She was almost three km/h faster than her closest competitor.

"It definitely gets your adrenaline going," said McKnight. "I was pretty relaxed up the top, but you get a rush as you get near the bottom. The slightest air or bobble gets your heart racing.

"All you can do is try to keep your skis as flat and straight as possible until you cross the finish line."

The finish line is where most of the crashes happened this year, with skiers losing control as they tried to ditch speed in a hurry. "The hardest part is not getting going, it’s getting stopped," said McKnight.

McKnight got into speed skiing after going to Sun Peaks to watch some other Whistler locals on the course, and keeps going for the people and the atmosphere.

"It was really good this year. There used to be a whole bunch of people from Whistler who took part like Dave Sheets and DJ Ryder, but not as many have been coming out in recent years. The dinner is back and the parties are back, and it’s just a great, well-run event," said McKnight.

McKnight pocketed $1,000 for her win, which helped pay for that trip as well as her trip to Sun Valley, Idaho to compete in the next World Cup speed events this weekend.

McKnight’s husband Ken Pederson also took part, and was first in the "production" downhill category – racing with conventional downhill suits and helmets, rather than the shaped rubber suits and speed helmets worn by the unlimited racers.

The men’s World Cup went to Switzerland’s Jonathan Moret followed by Simone Origone of Italy. Local Kenny Dale, who still holds the top speed record for the course, was third.

Finishing behind McKnight were Teria Davis of Sun Peaks and Tracie Sachs of the U.S.