Whistler racer Katrusiak takes pair of wins in Alberta 

Young ski-cross racer strong in new age division

click to enlarge PHOTO SUBMITTED - Head start Whistler's Nick Katrusiak preps for a heat during Western Canadian Ski Cross Series action in Edmonton earlier this month.
  • Photo submitted
  • Head start Whistler's Nick Katrusiak preps for a heat during Western Canadian Ski Cross Series action in Edmonton earlier this month.

Whistler ski-cross racer Nick Katrusiak made a quick splash in a new age category in the Western Canadian Ski Cross Series at Edmonton's Sunridge Ski Area earlier this month.

The Grade 9 student won back-to-back U16 races in his first-ever competition in the group.

At a contest where he was unfamiliar with much of his competition, Katrusiak explained that he entered with minimal expectations and took "a little bit" of confidence with each passing heat he successfully completed.

Once he made it to finals, Katrusiak had some jitters, but also put his situation into perspective.

"I was feeling nervous, but I only had to pass one of the guys to make it onto the podium," he said. "(To win) definitely gives me a lot of confidence."

On the second day, Katrusiak opted to repeat the no-holds-barred approach he took to Day 1.

"(Going in), I figured I'd go all out and see how I do," he said. "On the second day, I just thought I'd do the same thing. Even if I don't do as well, I still have a medal."

Though it was short, Katrusiak enjoyed the course located on the banks of the North Saskatchewan River. He felt that the quick run may have given him an advantage over his competition, as he tends to excel in sprints as opposed to battles requiring more endurance.

"(The course) wasn't too exciting, but it was good for the space they had," he said.

Katrusiak acknowledged that the quality of competition was diminished by the fact that Alberta's top racers were at Canada Winter Games qualifiers instead of at Sunridge, but was still pumped to be atop the podium twice.

There was additional excitement at the Jan. 12 races as a FIS-level competition was slated alongside the Western Canadian series and Katrusiak got to see some bigger, more experienced athletes in action. It also created a little more of an intimidating environment, he explained, as the older athletes brought tuning equipment to the hill. When they had cleared out in advance of the second day of racing, the atmosphere returned to being the more familiar, low-key vibe.

Two of Katrusiak's older teammates, Jack MacDonald and Jack Morrow, were shut out in U18 action on Jan. 12, though they had a better day on Jan. 13 as MacDonald took silver and Morrow bronze after the FIS-level racers had left.

MacDonald's younger brother Cameron also competed at the event.

Two more Western Canadian Series races are on tap later this season, first in Fernie and then at Big White. Though he's too young to compete, Katrusiak is also considering an opportunity to forerun at the National Ski Cross Championships at Banff's Sunshine Village in April.

As more of a grassroots offshoot of the Whistler Mountain Ski Club, the athletes complete regular Alpine race training but compete primarily, if not exclusively, in ski cross.

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