Sports Briefs: Few half marathon spots remain 

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Interest in The North Face Whistler Half Marathon on June 2 is strong, and at press time the race was close to 90 per cent sold out.

The number of entries was extended from 750 to 1,000 this year, and on Jan. 24 all but 138 spots were taken.

"We have been selling an average of 20 spots per day over the past week, so at that rate we would expect to be sold out near the end of January or early February," said race director Dave Clark. As well, 25 of the 100 spots in the one-kilometre Little Rippers kids' race have been sold.

Registration fees for the half are now $78, which includes taxes, fees and a $5 donation to the Crohn's and Colitis Foundation of Canada. The Littler Rippers run is $10 and includes a race kit and t-shirt.

Registration for both events is www.whistlerhalfmarathon.com.

Spud Valley Loppet next weekend

The Spud Valley Nordics are hosting the 23rd annual Spud Valley Loppet cross country races on Sunday, Feb. 5, starting at the Ronayne Farm (16km north of the Village of Pemberton) and finishing at the Lillooet River Forestry Bridge. The total distance is 12km and the race is for classic skiers only.

Online registration is at www.zone4.ca, but you can register on race day from 9 a.m. to 9:45 a.m. for an extra $2 per person or $5 per family. Children under 13 are $10, youth 14 to 19 are $15, adults are $20 and families are $40. If you're not a member of a nordic club there's an additional fee for a membership and Cross Country B.C. insurance.

There will be lunch and prizes available. For more, visit www.spudvalleynordics.com.

Checking banned from House League hockey

Recreational hockey players aged 17 and under will no longer be checking or getting checked at the house league level, starting the beginning of the 2012-2013 season. The Pacific Coast Amateur Hockey Association took the step in answer to the rising number of concussions. Players at the representative level and higher — and every club must field a house league team in order to field a rep team — can still body check other players.

The specifics are online at www.pcaha.bc.ca, but generally speaking the goal is to reduce injuries and specifically concussions. According to a 2010 study that looked at 74 Peewee teams in B.C. and Alberta over the 2007-2008 season — Peewee being the first year that checking was allowed — there were 241 injuries and 71 concussions. Comparatively, a look at 76 Peewee teams from Quebec, where checking is not allowed, there were just 91 injuries and 23 concussions.

When researchers looked at injury and concussion statistics for Bantam teams from Alberta and Quebec, which allows body checking for the first time, the statistics reverse. Players in Alberta, with two years of checking under their belts at an injury rate of 3.99 per 1,000 player game hours, while in Quebec the figure was 4.54. Slightly higher, but still far fewer injuries overall than when younger Peewee players were allowed to check.

Spots still available in Peak to Valley

The annual Peak to Valley Race, sponsored by Jose Cuervo, is an institution in Whistler, one of the highlights for skiers that like a good challenge.

The course is one of the longest anywhere, with a vertical drop of 1,443 metres from the top of The Saddle (weather and conditions permitting) to the timing flats above Creekside, and 180 gates placed along the five kilometre route.

While the race, taking place Feb. 3 and 4, usually sells out all 100 spots during the summer, there are a few teams slots still available. To enter a team you need four people, one of them female. Your category will depend on your combined age.

As well as team spots, race organizers keep a list of "singles" — racers that don't currently have teams, but would like to take part. A lot of teams find themselves scrambling for replacements at the last minute because racers have business or family commitments, or get injured before race day.

Skiers, telemarkers and snowboarders are welcome, although there are no separate categories.

To enter a team or get onto the singles list, contact Tim Dale at 604-905-2032.

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