Whistler athletes make strong showing at B.C. Winter Games 

Alpine skiers win zone title

It was an exhausting three days for the 14 Whistler athletes who took part in the B.C. Winter Games at Port Alberni last weekend, but a worthwhile experience nonetheless.

More than 1,460 athletes and almost 600 coaches, managers and officials took part this year, representing eight different competitive zones in 21 sports. The Whistler athletes represented Zone 5 Vancouver-Squamish in five different events.

Whistler councillors acknowledged the achievements before their regular meeting on Monday, with Mayor Hugh O’Reilly encouraging the young athletes to aim high.

"2010 is only six years away, so dream a big dream," he said.

The majority of Whistler athletes took part in the alpine skiing events, with slalom, giant slalom and team dual glalom categories. Only K1 level skiers, aged 11 and 12, were allowed to participate.

The Zone 5 team took the dual glalom gold, combining individual times in the slalom and giant slalom, with Whistler athletes leading the way.

In the women’s events, Whistler’s Brynne Benbow led the way with a gold medal in the slalom on Saturday and another gold in the giant slalom the following day.

"I was happy because the slalom is usually not my best event, I’m better in the GS," said Benbow, 12. "I like to ski really round turns, and that’s how they set the course."

Benbow was wearing bib number two in the races, and as a result she had to watch more than 35 other skiers come down the course after her own runs.

"I didn’t like going second, but it was fine as soon as I was on the course," she said. "At the bottom I was nervous. Two of my friends are really good skiers as well, and I was nervous to see what their times were."

In the slalom, nobody came close to catching Benbow’s time of 34.42 seconds. Maelle Bergeron of Penticton was second in 35.39 and Rachel Cohen of Kimberley and Kelsi Francisty of Duncan tied for third with times of 36.04.

Benbow is the youngest of three sisters, and both Kayla and Kendall have moved on to the B.C. Ski Team and national competitions. Brynne says it’s cool to have sisters to follow in the sport.

"I really look up to them a lot. (Older sister Kayla) was a ski racer when I was six years old, and I used to watch her, so it’s pretty cool to know that they’re watching us now," said Benbow.

Also from Whistler, Madison McLeish was 10 th , Maddi Podborski 19 th and Nancy Bayly 35 th .

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