WMSC coaches repeat Peak to Valley win 

63 teams take part in shortened version of annual race

In a lot of ways it was a typical Appleton Peak to Valley race. The weather was a factor on both days, with low visibility to contend with on day one and an icy course on day two.

The "Valley" part was also misleading, as this year’s race ran from the top of The Saddle to the bottom of the Franz’s Chair, a vertical drop of just 485 metres. Typically the race ends at Creekside base with a drop of about 1,550 metres.

There were 72 gates on Friday and 70 on Saturday, and a typical run was well over two minutes for most racers, which is twice as long as a normal giant slalom event.

The Whistler Mountain Ski Club was defending its title this year, and the coaches came through again with a combined time of 9:16.01. The AKS WMSC team was made up of Sead Causevic, Linas Vaitkus, Hilary Lindh and Peter Todd. They also finished first in Category I (combined age of 76 to 134).

Second overall went to Team Mild Millies, with Tom Prochazka, Steve Fleckenstein, Kent Wills and Liz Roehrig laying down a combined time of 9:55.99.

Wild Willies was third overall in 9:56.69, finishing second to the WMSC in Category 1. Wild Willies included Joel Jacques, Tommy Thompson, Jane Emerick and Joey Gibbons.

In Friday’s race, Sead Causevic was the top male with a time of 2:24.61. Tom Prochazka was just 0.03 seconds back with a 2:24.65, while his teammate Joey Gibbons placed third with a 2:24.82. Joan Wilson was the top female with a time of 2:27.94, Hilary Lindh was second with a 2:32.51, and Carmine Boskovich was third with a 2:37.70. Grace Oaks, who competes in the Over 60 category in the Kokannee Valley Race Series, was an amazing fifth out of all women in 2:47.47.

On Saturday the fast time belonged to Linas Vaitkus in 2:07.98. Dana Williams was second in 2:08.70 and Peter Todd third in 2:10.91.

Tracy Gibbons was the top woman in 2:24.94, followed by Caroline L’Heureux in 2:28.88 and Michelle Yeates. In 2:29.28.

Organizer Cate Webster from the Whistler-Blackcomb events department said the event and the after-part were a success.

"People were just happy to be out there," she said. "There was a certain amount of worry leading up to it, what it was going to be like with the weather, whether the course was going to go down Franz’s and wreck their skis. We changed the course every day with the snow conditions, and it was a lot shorter than usual, but people were still tired at the end because there hasn’t been much top to bottom skiing this year.

"But all in all I think that people were just stoked that the race happened, and the party that night was incredible."

The race also saw the participation of a client of the Whistler Adaptive Sports Program, Hamilton Vaughn-Cook of Washington D.C. The Vaughn-Cook’s have been coming to Whistler since 2002, and this is Hamilton’s third year with the Whistler Adaptive Ski Program.

A fast skier with a learning disability, Hamilton was a forerunner on the course along with his trainer Steve Cymet.

Fay Vaughn-Cook, Hamilton’s mother, said they were thrilled to be part of the race this year.

"I know Hamilton was very excited to be racing again," she said. "He’s been skiing since he was 11, he used to race with a club on the East Coast… but moved away to school and training programs, and hasn’t been skiing. This was an opportunity to get back into racing, and for being challenged at another level."

Hamilton handled the course well, although he did miss a couple of gates. He wasn’t timed, but he skis so fast that WASP usually sends two volunteers along on ski days. He is also set to ski in the next Special Olympics.

Fay thanked WASP for their help and pledged to bring Hamilton back again next year.

"It’s just a great program, there’s really nothing like it back east, and I think the more people that know about it the better it’s going to be," she said.

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