8 WMSC FIS athletes traveled to Kimberley, BC to compete at last week’s Dreadnaught Speed Series. 4 kids on the roster were 1st-years running their inaugural downhill, and coaches Conrad Pridy and Shannon Smith reported that the trip was excellent! “There’s something magical about Downhill, “ says Conrad. “After the first day of the speed camp there was a noticeable change in the energy on our team, and a massive uptick in morale. Training is training and it’s always fun to improve, but getting back to the essence of ski racing – going as fast as you can down the mountain, making turns only where necessary, and hitting every roller, compression, and jump along the way – is a great reminder for everyone as to why we all got into this sport to begin with.”
A 3-day training camp was held first, and racers had a chance to run the course in sections and then work up to doing it in its entirety, alternating on-hill time with the Alberta-based racers. Good conditions prevailed for those 3 days, and times got progressively faster. (Ever wondered how fast? Our racers were clocked during races at speeds between 100-110 km/p/hr!)
Conrad went on to say that, “on a personal level it was great to be back on a speed track where I feel more than comfortable, and in a position to really get the kids going. Not to pump my own tires too much, but I know and love DH more than anything, and often found myself having to play down how excited I was. All of our guys and girls made massive improvements over the week and looked a lot like little speed skiers by then end of it. The track was amazing, perfect for learning how to ski speed in a safe environment, but still with enough to challenge to keep it fresh even after 6 days.
There were some challenges with snowfall, wind, and accelerating snow conditions, but for the record Shannon and I were never worried for the safety of our athletes. It might sound a little presumptuous, but we’re Whistler kids, and the things that scare or cause other athletes trouble don’t seem to have the same effect on us. There were some butterflies for sure before the first full-length run on the track, but when all of the normally sketchy variables started coming out of the woodwork our kids didn’t utter a single complaint. In fact, they were basically the only one’s who voted yes to run the second Super-G in the raging blizzard that eventually cancelled the second half of the day!”
A new tradition was introduced during the week as well. “The Kitz bib” (formerly worn by coach Conrad when he raced at Kitzbuhel), was awarded daily to deserving athletes for both performance and teamwork…or, in the case of Keiran Harley, catlike recovery skills after taking some of the sketchiest air on day one before they shaved down the bump! (Good thing mom Laura, volunteering all week, didn’t see it from the finish.)
First official training run on day #4 marked the beginning of fresh snowfall (of course) which continued on and off through the race series. Despite each only getting one timed training run that day, the kids felt relatively prepared for their races….which then got postponed a day due to soft conditions and high winds.
Race day #1 finally came on Wednesday and Keiran Harley made an impressive start in his debut FIS DH with a top 20 finish in amongst provincial team athletes. The three first-year gals were happy to get their first downhill finishes under their belts too, all finishing in the top 20 as well.
Thursday was a double race day, with the kids first running their second downhill race and then switching gears for a night slalom! Highlight (and Kitz bib) of the day was a podium finish for Gigi Kranjc who came second in the downhill, and 15th in the slalom!! Teammate Julia Ross earned a top seed DH finish as well, placing 14th.
Our four WMSC boys all finished the Dreadnaught DH that day and made a fine showing in the slalom that evening. 5 ‘alumni’ athletes (now on the BC team) claimed top 10 spots - Kyle Alexander (1), Asher Jordan (3), Max Kirshenblatt (5), Alexander Valentin (8), and Myles Kowalczyk (10) – and Dawson Yates and Jack Forsyth finished in the top 20 in 18th and 19th respectively.
On the final day of competition, organizers did their best to make up the lost race day by scheduling two Super-G races, but a midday blizzard stopped the event after only one race run each (much to the disappointment of the Whistlerites!). Nevertheless, WMSC athletes scored some decent results including a 9th place for Julia Ross, only a couple tenths of a second behind former teammate Ella Renzoni (now BCST), and a top seed finish (15th) for Jack Forsyth in the very competitive men’s field.
“It was a heck of a week,” finished Conrad, “and Shannon and I are as proud as the parents of these kids. I know I can speak for all the athletes here, too, when I say we’re counting down the days until the next Dreadnaught Speed Series!”
Congratulations to Jack Forsyth, Griffin Brumec-Parsons, Dawson Yates, Keiran Harley, Julia Ross, Gemma Bexton, Gigi Kranjc, and Hannah McIntyre for their performances. Now…back to school and home for some training ahead of the Whistler Teck FIS BC Cup series February 27-March 2.
For full results, click the links below and/or go to: http://bcalpine.com/news/
For more information, please contact:
Media Liaison Whistler Mountain Ski Club