Fifteen of the Yukon’s alpine skiers were in Smithers, B.C., for the Teck North Zone Finals hosted by B.C. Alpine from April 5 to 7 at Hudson Bay Mountain Resort.
Racers competed in giant slalom — the final national points race of the season — as well as dual slalom and ski cross.
Yves Titley, head coach for the Alpine Ski Association Yukon, said conditions were good for racing despite a smaller snow pack than is typical for the area.
“They’ve probably lost half of the snow they’ve had compared to previous years,” said Titley. “(They’ve had) very mild weather for the last two or three weeks prior to the race, but conditions were nice.”
Temperatures dropped below freezing overnight, so the snow was in good shape for each morning’s races.
“We look for a hard surface — that means it freezes at night,” said Titley about what makes for good racing. “Given the fact it is held in the spring, sometimes it’s hit or miss. We like a hard surface for alpine races and we did get that.”
The group of 15 skiers included five at the masters level and Titley said the 12 medals earned by Yukoners were distributed across the entire team and the most he has seen at the event in his time as coach.
“We brought some kids that were eight and nine years old and we brought some that were 14 and 15, and we had masters (skiers),” said Titley. “I think our youngest (skier) was nine … and we had one race in the masters that was 70.”
The Yukoners earned four podium finishes in the giant slalom on April 5.
Wesley Vangel finished second in the men’s under 16 category as did Olivia Vangel in the women’s under 12 category.
At the masters level, Dean Vollmer and Taras Yurkiv finished second and third respectively in the masters men’s category.
The team picked up another five medals in the ski cross on April 6.
Thomas Vollmer was the winner at the under 10 men’s level and Olivia added another second-place finish at the under 12 women’s level.
In the masters women’s category, Susie Heffner finished second.
Jamies Minifie and Fabien Florentin finished first and second in the masters men’s category.
“They weren’t planning to race,” said Titley about Minifie and Florentin. “They decided they’d race the ski cross and it blew my mind. Amazing results for those two.”
The surprises weren’t over for Titley and crew, as the team earned another three spots on the podium in the dual slalom — a head-to-head race format where the first racer to lose twice is eliminated from competition.
Gregory Yurkiv won the dual slalom at the under eight level, Jordan Minifie won at the under 14 level and Thomas finished second at the under 10 level.
Gregory’s results in particular impressed Titley, who explained Gregory doesn’t have a long background with the sport.
“That was amazing — I’ve never seen that,” said Titley about the win. “They’re not only racing against kids of their own age … so Gregory finished first in his group but he must have been skiing against 11-year-olds, etc.”
Contact John Hopkins-Hill at firstname.lastname@example.org