Shorter wins U16 provincial crown 

Lafreniere stars in Quebec; Whistler U14s excellent in Prince George

click to enlarge PHOTO SUBMITTED - Provincial champs Jaden Dawson and Matthias Shorter celebrate their U16 provincial titles.
  • Photo submitted
  • Provincial champs Jaden Dawson and Matthias Shorter celebrate their U16 provincial titles.

Consistency is key in ski racing and it was rewarded during the BC Alpine U16 overall championship chase.

Whistler Mountain Ski Club (WMSC) competitor Matthias Shorter benefitted from an incredibly consistent Teck Open season, in which he finished no lower than eighth, by claiming the overall title after the provincial series wrapped at Apex Mountain Resort in Penticton on March 25.

"That was one of my goals at the start of the season, to try to do the best that I could in the overall and perhaps win it," said Shorter, who will bring plenty of confidence into next month's Whistler Cup. "I was leading the overall after Kimberley, which was the series before this, and then I thought, 'OK, I've just got to ski as fast as I can for this last series and maybe I can win it.'

"There was still lots of competition. There were still four people going into this last race who could win it."

After starting the weekend with a fourth-place finish in the slalom, Shorter took three consecutive podium appearances, second in the second slalom, winning the first giant slalom and third in the second GS. Shorter noted that his victory was his first of the season, which helped pad his overall lead.

In the March 21 slalom, Chase Burns was second, John Nicolls was third, Hayden Harley took sixth, Sam Fuller was eighth and Adam Usher was 10th. The next day, also in a slalom, Nicolls was third, while Usher, Duncan Ross, Graham Seltzer and Fuller were sixth through ninth, respectively.

Switching to the giant slalom, Fuller took second to Shorter in the March 23 event, Seltzer was fourth, Harley eighth and Ross ninth. In the final race on March 24, Nicolls earned second, while Burns was fourth, David Wood took fifth and Fuller was eighth.

On the women's side, Squamish's Jaden Dawson brought home the overall title for WMSC. She hit the podium in all four races, with three third-place performances to go with her second-place showing in the second giant slalom.

Sara Stiel was impressive on the large course, winning the March 21 giant slalom while Fiona McInnes took sixth. She also won the March 22 race, while McInnes jumped to fifth.

In the slalom, Isabella Cross took a sixth-place finish on March 23 while Holly Clarke was 10th. In the March 24 event, Stiel took fourth and Clarke was again 10th.

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Lafreniere wins in Quebec

Whistler's Kaila Lafreniere got a fresh look at ski racing during a three-month sojourn to Quebec.

She also found plenty of success at the U16 provincial race earlier this month, winning a gold medal to go along with a pair of silvers at Mont Garceau earlier this month.

Showing off both her speed and technical talents, Lafreniere won the super-G race while being the only skier to truly test champion Arianne Forget in the pair of giant slalom races in her biggest event of the year.

Forget won the Canada Winter Games super-G, so for Lafreniere to best her this time was a major accomplishment.

"She's one of the strongest girls that I know and I'm super thankful to race and train with her—she's on my team," she said. "She's very, very inspiring because she's super good, and she's also older than me, so it's super cool that I beat her."

Lafreniere crashed in the slalom earlier in the festival, but was still excited for the races she ended up excelling in, noting that super-G is her strongest discipline.

"I thought that day is my day. I was going to win," Lafreniere recalled.

Lafreniere went to Quebec this winter to increase her training and to improve with the Belle Neige-S1 ski team, currently attending a school where classes end at 2 p.m., which allows her to train from then until 5:30 p.m.

She spent the season getting tough competition in races around the province, including against some skiers that will go to next month's Mackenzie Investments Whistler Cup.

"It's pretty difficult being away from my family and my friends from Whistler but skiing here is really cool and I've been training really hard," she said.

Lafreniere will plan to return to Quebec next winter and then return to Whistler for the 2020 Whistler Cup.

WMSC U14s star at provincials

Felix Shorter and Alexa Brownlie went home with plenty of hardware from the U14 provincials in Prince George earlier this month as they won the overall provincial titles.

Shorter, who won both the slalom and giant slalom events, credited excellent preparation, including well-tuned skis and a keen eye, for his success.

"I had a pretty good inspection. I knew the course really well, so I could ski it how I inspected," he said. "It was grippy snow and it was aggressive, so if you pushed on the outside ski, you could trust the snow and it would bring you to the next turn."

Shorter was confident heading in after a strong performance in 2018.

"I was trying to win. Last year at provincials, I had a pretty good time, so I thought I could win (this time)," he said.

Brownlie, meanwhile, won the slalom and was second in the giant slalom. She was the first to drop in the slalom race, and while she initially grappled with the gravitas of that opportunity, realized it was a great chance for gold.

"I had a super nice course so I just really charged it and it worked out well," she said. "I was pretty nervous the night before, but the more that I thought about it, it didn't really matter. The snow conditions had been really soft, so it was more of an advantage than something to be nervous about."

Brownlie said she didn't start the way she would have liked at the first event of the year, but with some time to readjust before the second set of races at Mount Seymour. In that series, which also featured U16 competitors, Brownlie worked hard and found ways to achieve her goals.

"After my first run (against U16s), I was in third for overall, U16 and U14, and in first for U14. I thought, 'OK, you can do this,' and that just gave me the confidence to carry it through this tough month," she said.

U12 skiers excel at Sun Peaks

The next generation of WMSC skiers had a strong showing at the Nancy Greene Hub International Ski Festival at Sun Peaks on March 22 and 23. The festival is designed for those aged four to 11, racing in groups based on their birth years.

In the dual 'glalom' (a hybrid slalom and giant slalom), Nicole Webb and Thea Torn were first and second among 2007 females. Among 2008 competitors, Sophie Neeves was third for females while the males swept the podium via Dreas Gibbons, Kingsley Parkhill and Graydyn Swanson, in order.

In the moguls, Seth Robert took a second-place finish among 2007 males while the club swept the 2008 males podium again with Marek Novak, Gibbons and Liam Gotfried medalling in order.

In the Kombi event, Marlowe Cook was second among 2007 females while the 2008 males swept again, with Gibbons, Parkhill and Swanson taking the top three steps, respectively.

In the speed race, Cook was the top 2007 female competitor while Webb tied teammate Thea Torn for third. Among 2008 females, Naomi Robert was third while for 2008 males, Spencer Wardle placed third.

Lastly, for the jump event, Maxim Akbulatov took second for 2007 males while Swanson was third among the 2008 males.

The week earlier, WMSC hosted the second-annual Janyk Cup with over 100 U12 skiers taking part. Thomas Legg and Thea Torn took home the overall titles on the men's and women's sides, respectively, after posting the fastest combined giant slalom (GS) times.

Legg, competing in the 2007 division, was second in the first GS and first in the second. Maxim Akbulatov was third in the second running. As for the 2007 women, Torn was second in the first run and first in the second run. Teammate Marlowe Cook won the first run, while in the second run, Hannah Jenson was in second and Nicole Webb in third helped secure a WMSC podium sweep.

As for the 2008 athletes, Dreas Gibbons won the first men's race while Kingsley Parkhill was second. Parkhill won the second event. As for the women, Naomi Robert and Sophie Neeves were second and third, respectively, in the second event. Meanwhile, Oliver Baynham and Sarah Keogh were the fastest male and female racers among 2009s in the first event. Baynham also won the second run while Ruby Cook and Keogh took the top two spots in order.

In the dual glalom, meanwhile, WMSC dominated. Legg led a sweep on the 2007 men's side, as he was followed by Ryan Perron and Owen Stanniforth, while on the women's side, Webb was ahead of Jenson and Cook. In the 2008 event, Parkhill edged out Gibbons and Graydyn Swanson, while Neeves topped the women's side. Baynham and Cook, meanwhile, were the top 2009 racers.

Recalling Janyk's contributions to the club, U12 lead coach Gillian McFetridge said in a release: "I remember her passion for ski racing and her devotion to the Whistler Mountain Ski Club. I feel confident in saying that our parent volunteers this weekend, many of whom are new to the club, bring an enthusiasm for ski racing that was a fitting tribute."


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