Whistler women on top in Pontiac GMC Cup 

B.C. team nets most podiums

The B.C. Ski Team emerged from the first stop of the Pontiac GMC Cup alpine racing series at Mount Norquay in Banff, Alberta, with its share of the hardware. Whistler athletes were among the top performers in both the giant slalom and slalom races.

In the first GS on Jan. 10, Whistler Mountain Ski Club alumni and B.C. Ski Team member Aaron Civitarese claimed the gold medal with the fastest and third fastest times of the day for a combined time of one minute 59.44 seconds.

Brian Bennett of Quesnel, B.C., a member of the Whistler Mountain Ski Club’s (WMSC) FIS team, finished almost a second back to take the silver medal, while Dustin McLeay of Calgary scooped the bronze for the Alberta Ski Team.

In the women’s GS, Whistler’s Jennifer Bertram – another member of the B.C. Ski Team – took the top spot in 2:03.73 with a margin of victory of more than three and a half seconds. That’s an eternity in ski racing.

Stephanie McDougall, another Whistler skier on the B.C. team, finished in second spot with a time of 2:07.18, about 0.55 seconds faster than teammate Katie McMillan of Prince George.

On Jan. 11, Quesnel’s Brian Bennett took the GS gold medal in 2:01.19, less than half a second faster than Whistler’s Robbie Dixon, who is on the B.C. Team. Trevor White of Calgary was third.

"This was a big step for him to prove that he (Bennett) belonged at the top of the podium," says WMSC coach Brett MacFarlane. "Now he has to start skiing to do more than just get on the podium but dominate it and make it his territory. We expect this to come as he gets more races under his belt and is more confident skiing with the lead.

"As for the rest of the team, this was a very positive week. The hard work done by all the athletes earlier in the season is starting to show. Everyone progressed run to run as they gained confidence and became more comfortable with their recent technical advancements."

In the second women’s GS race, Whistler’s Jennifer Bertram once again came out on top by a comfortable margin. Calgary’s Shona Rubens was second by just under 1.5 seconds over two runs, and Katie McMillian of Prince George was third. Whistler’s Rachel Walker ended the day in seventh place.

On Jan. 12, the skiers switched to shorter skis and slowed things down for the slalom race.

Calgary’s Dustin Mcleay took the top spot, edging out Brian Bennett and Caleb Dyck of Edmonton with a time of 1:30.45. Bennett and Dyck posted times of 1:30.80 and 1:31.97 respectively.

In the women’s slalom, Elizabeth Richardson of Invermere won gold in 1:33.26. Julie Rabnett of Calgary took the silver in 1:34.48 while Emily Hamill, also of Calgary, took bronze in 1:36.98. Whistler’s Jennifer Bertram and Rachel Walker were fourth and fifth.

In the second men’s slalom on the following day, Wisconsin skier Derek Iverson took the gold medal. 0.14 seconds ahead of Trevor White. Caleb Dyck was third, shutting the B.C. skiers out of the podium positions for the first time during the race series.

Things didn’t improve for the B.C. Team in the women’s race with Katie Fukushima of Canmore taking the top spot, and Calgary’s Jenny Thompson and Emily Hamill finishing second and third. The closest the team came was Rachel Walker’s sixth place finish.

All told, B.C. skiers walked away from the series with 10 medals out of a possible 24.

The Pontiac GMC Cup competition continues on Jan. 28 with downhill and super-G events at Mont Ste Anne, Quebec.

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