Whistler skiers strong in zone races 

Whistler’s K2 skiers (ages 13 to 14) were off to a great start this season with two gold, three silver, three bronze medals, and 23 top-10 finishes over two days of giant slalom racing last weekend on Blackcomb.

The Whistler Mountain Ski Club (WMSC) hosted the event, which drew racers from all over the Lower Mainland and Mount Washington.

The Coast Zone, one of five racing zones in the province, is considered to be one of the most difficult because of the large population base and the high level of competition. As a result the Coast Zone – which includes Mount Washington, Cypress, Seymour and Whistler ski clubs – has produced a number of Canada’s premier racers, including Allison Forsyth and Britt Janyk.

Kendall Benbow was a large part of the success, winning two gold medals and a silver.

Britt Gibbons landed her share of the hardware also, finishing second, third and fourth in her three races. Mila Rusimovich collected another bronze, a fifth, and a seventh.

In the men’s competition, Shaun Stroshin added a silver, a sixth, and a ninth place finish to the tally. Jerry McArthur contributed a bronze and a sixth place finish. Michael Messeguer added a bronze and a seventh.

Other top-10 athletes include Tyla Flexman (9 th , 10 th ), Alison Leighton (5 th , 5 th’ ), Vanessa Disler (10 th ), and Darren Chaddock (4 th ).

"I think we were really successful, looking at the number of top 10s from the club, and the great results, both male and female," says WMSC alpine chair John Benbow.

The WMSC recently hired Quebec Ski Team coach Patrick Demers, and Benbow says the effect so far has been huge. "He’s done a great job. He’s taken the kids to a new level, in training and on the race course, and we’re seeing the results."

Benbow has been involved with the WCSC for the past six years, putting three daughters through the program. Kayla, the eldest at 16, competes at the FIS level, and has been invited by the Austrian Ski Federation to ski at the 2001 World Championships. The youngest has just started to ski competitively.

"It’s just something that’s been evolving through our family," says Benbow.

With the number of strong skiers to come out of Whistler and the Coast Zone recently, Benbow feels there is a real chance that some of the young club racers could be representing their hometown if the Vancouver-Whistler 2010 Olympic bid is successful. "It’s a real possibility, looking at the talent here."

The WMSC will be hosting a Nor-Am event in February, and select athletes will have a chance to qualify for the B.C. Ski Team at an upcoming competition at Panorama.

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