The Yukon Alpine Ski Team didn’t get to ease into the race season.
There were plenty of intimidating factors for three Yukon skiers while competing at the Cresa U16 Race Series in Lake Louise, Alberta, over the weekend.
Not only were Yukoners Abby Hawes, Josie Storey and Tayler Mitchell racing against the top U16 female skiers in Western Canada, but all three are just 14 years old.
Even the course was intimidating.
“Essentially, this is the same course, the same run, as when they run the World Cup downhill,” said Yukon head coach Yves Titley. “So it’s quite intimidating. I think they were all intimidated, not just my skiers, but the ones from Saskatchewan and Manitoba, because they had never raced on such a course like that.”
Nonetheless, the Yukon team achieved mid-field results and even cracked the top-20 for their age at the event, which was the team’s first competition of the season.
The Cresa event featured giant slalom races on Friday and Saturday, followed by a slalom race on Sunday.
Hawes was the only Yukoner to complete all three races.
In a field of about 60 skiers, Hawes placed 34th Friday, 37th Saturday and 34th Sunday. Out of 14-year-old skiers, those results jump up to 21st, 20th and 17th.
“I’m pretty pleased with Abby’s result,” said Titley.
After going off course on Friday, Storey raced to 44th in Saturday’s giant slalom and 27th in Sunday’s slalom. For her age Storey was 24th and 12th.
On Saturday, “they improved their results a bit, but they were still apprehensive of going down that course,” said Titley. “The treacherous place is called Fall Away … Even World Cup racers are always careful there.”
Mitchell placed 48th on Saturday – 27th for 14-year-olds. She did not finish on Friday and Sunday.
“The thing is with us in the Yukon, and other teams like Northern Alberta, we haven’t trained in giant slalom because we don’t have the course set up to practice,” said Titley. “So we were at a little bit of a disadvantage in the giant slalom.
“We were able to train in slalom and you can see in slalom we have better results.”
All three Yukoners have represented the Yukon at two Arctic Winter Games in 2010 and 2012.
Storey won silver in dual slalom at the 2012 Arctic Winter Games in juvenile girls and also produced two fourth-place finishes.
Storey’s silver was the first Arctic Games medal won by the Yukon in alpine skiing since 2006.
Hawes placed sixth in slalom in juvenile female at the Arctic Games last March.
Their results helped Yukon take bronze in the team event at the Games.
Storey and Hawes placed first and second, respectively, in the K2 division at last season’s Yukon Cup.
The Yukon Alpine Ski Association will be holding a series of races open to the public at Mount Sima Feb. 9 and 10. The event will feature giant slalom on the Saturday and slalom on the Sunday.
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