Mining the need for speed 

Two generations of Parsons compete

Celebrating its 26 th anniversary this weekend, the Parsons Memorial event has become a rite of passage for up and coming alpine skiers in the south coast, as one of the first sanctioned speed events they will ever race.

This weekend (Feb. 5-6) the Whistler Mountain Ski Club will be hosting K2 athletes (age 13-14) from across Zone 5 (Lower Mainland, Sea to Sky and Vancouver Island) for a pair of super G races on Blackcomb’s Lower Cruiser Run.

"Hosting speed events at age 6-10 should be as regular as training slalom and giant slalom," said WMSC program director Nigel Cooper. "The elements of straight running, tucking, carving high speed turns, jumping and stopping are all important skills that can be taught early.

"We train them at K1 but hope in a few years to be refining some of those skills at an earlier age to take advantage of the windows of opportunity that exist as the kids grow and develop. The Norwegians are training speed from seven years of age and currently have one of the strongest development systems in the world."

K1 teams also got to use the run for training this past weekend, with the added challenge of soft snow and ruts to contend with.

The Parsons Memorial was named in honour of Bob Parsons, a pioneer in ski racing who first started racing out of Vancouver in 1945. The Parsons family became members of the Whistler Mountain Ski Club in the late 1960s, and as their children became involved in racing Bob traveled from course to course to help with preparation and set-up. He formed and led the infamous Weasel Workers, named after the Weasel section of the Dave Murray Downhill – with no winch cats, this section had to be boot packed, shoveled and raked entirely by hand. He was the Chief of Course for all major downhill races at Whistler until his death in 1979.

The following year a youth downhill racing series he created was named in his honour. The slopes and the format have changed – the super G was only introduced two seasons ago, and has since replaced downhill – but the goal has always been the same: to give young skiers a chance to try speed events.

Two generations of Parsons have competed in the race now, Jim Parsons and Alison Leighton, both winning the Parsons Memorial Plaque.

The events take place on Blackcomb, but the medal presentations will be at Olympic Plaza at Creekside on Sunday and Monday at 3 p.m. The Plaque will be awarded to the top male and female, based on overall points.

For more information, or to volunteer to help with the race, contact the Whistler Mountain Ski Club at 604-932-4644.

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