Never before has the Yukon Alpine Ski Team returned from a competition with more hardware in tow than at the start of the week.
The Yukon team pocketed 14 medals at the Teck North Zone Finals over the weekend in Smithers, B.C.
“It was great. We actually brought our U12s down, they’re the younger kids, and they did great,” said Yukon skier Abby Hawes.
The Yukon team collected medals in four age groups. One of Yukon’s youngest skiers won the team’s only gold from the weekend.
In her first Outside trip – and her first Outside race – Yukon’s Greta Gladwin won gold in under-10 girls skicross on Sunday.
“That’s her first road trip, she’s a young girl, she’s an up-and-comer,” said Yukon coach Eugene Hawes. “She started training with the U12s and she’s very strong, but she’s only nine years old. She doesn’t have any fear.”
“She’s going to be a great little racer, I just know it already,” added Abby.
Gladwin’s gold was not the only medal to spring from a U10 division. Teammate Clayton Chapman took silver in the U10 boys skicross race.
Gladwin and Chapman were too young to compete in Saturday’s giant slalom, but were course forerunners for the event.
“There are a lot of people coming up, little racers, who are going to be pretty great who you’ll probably see get some great results,” said Abby.
Yukon’s big medal rush came in the two one-run GS races on Saturday.
Josie Storey won silver in each of the two GS races in under-16 females. She also claimed a bronze in each for placing third overall out of all female skiers.
Abby Hawes was close behind with a bronze in each GS race for U16.
Teammate Tayler Mitchell placed fifth and fourth in the same division on Saturday.
“It’s mine and Josie and Tayler’s last season, so we just had a lot of fun and I guess we did all right,” said Abby. “We came home with a lot of medals and it was fun.”
The three long-time teammates may direct their talents towards coaching next season since numbers tend to drop in the under-18 division. They’ll see what’s going to happen with the Canada Winter Games next year before making a decision, said Abby.
“We’re not sure at this point, I guess we could, but I think we’re all looking a little more at coaching next year and doing a little less racing,” said Abby. “It all depends on the Canada Games, if that’s an option. But right now we’re looking more at coaching because the racing dribbles down at U18. Most people stop then, so there’s not as much competition.”
Other Yukon medals from the GS include Charlie Hawes winning bronze and Shane Orban winning bronze in the other race for U14 boys.
Mollie Fraser raced to bronze, followed by a fourth place finish, in the U12 girls races.
Storey was back to winning medals in Sunday’s skicross events, which saw 130 skiers and snowboarders take part.
Storey snagged silver in the under-16 female division. Abby placed fourth, ahead of teammates Samantha Richardson and Mitchell in fifth and seventh, respectively.
“Josie and I decided to do everything we wanted to do in this last race and we just made the best of it,” said Abby. “It was a lot of fun. Next year we will go back to Smithers and maybe we’ll be coaching. Maybe we’ll throw on old race skis and race it.”
Yukon’s Liam Diamond raced to bronze in the U12 males skicross. Orin Gladwin placed fifth, while Yukon teammates Noah Wright and Ensio Lera tied for eighth in the same division.
Orban captured another bronze in U14 skicross. Charlie Hawes placed fifth and teammate Manas Sarin-Toews seventh in the same group.
Yukon’s Grace-Ann Janssen sped to seventh out of 10 skiers in the U14 female skicross.
“Some skiers were right there. Maybe it was a bad turn or some icy spot, but they were very close and could have medalled too,” said Eugene.
The Yukon Alpine Ski Team has had a productive season. They sped to six medals, including a bronze in the team event, at the Arctic Winter Games last month in Fairbanks, Alaska. Storey, Abby Hawes and teammate Katie Vowk all collected hardware at the Games.
The team won one individual medal in 2012 Games and no medals at the 2008 and 2010 Games.
“We’d like to thank (Whitehorse’s) Mount Sima for their support, we’re very happy they stayed open,” said Eugene. “Alpine Yukon has a really good program and we’re developing strong skiers.”
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