This past weekend saw Jasper Ski Team racers in the U14 (ages 12-13) group racing against their peers in the Alberta Winter Games time trials at Rabbit Hill outside of Edmonton. This qualifying race was for Zones 5 and 6 in Alberta.
The Alberta Winter Games are held every two years for athletes in a variety of winter sports. Alpine skiing is just one of the categories. The Alberta Winter Games will be held in early February with the alpine skiing events hosted by Mount Norquay in Banff.
A total of 47 athletes competed for spots to represent their zone in the winter games. Jasper falls into Zone 5 and therefore saw competition from three clubs: Sunridge Racers, Parkland Racers and Rabbit Hill Alpine Ski Team.
Zone 6 is made up of Edmonton Ski Club and Snow Valley Ski Club.
The race itself was a sprint format slalom race. This format has two race courses (blue and red), with each athlete racing two runs in each course and then their fastest run in each course is combined. From this, the top five males and top five females from each zone are selected for the Alberta Winter Games.
For Jasper racers Walter Ostrander, Saje Rayner, Eli Erb-Beauchamp and Thomas McKenney the weekend ended in mixed feelings.
Ostrander had a tough morning and was unable to complete a run in the blue course, which took him out of a qualifying spot. He was still able to race in the afternoon on the red and posted the two fastest times for the day. Although a tough break, his times bode well for the rest of the season in slalom skiing.
Rayner missed a gate on his first run on the blue course and was disqualified. Fortunately, he still had another chance on the blue. His second run was clean, but a cautious start put him fifth in Zone 5 after the morning’s race.
Rayner’s first run on the red course was looking very good until he straddled the third to last gate and was disqualified. His final run was clean, but not quite fast enough, and placed him in sixth place by 0.3 of a second, just out of reach for a spot on the Zone 5 team.
McKenney and Erb-Beauchamp both skied well for their first ever U14 race.
The step from U12 is a big one and both of these athletes completed clean runs and should be happy with their performances.
Coach Marek Revai saw some good things happening with the boys’ skiing, but has seen some better skiing in training, so putting those skills into effect on race day is the next challenge for our local athletes.
The Jasper Ski Team continues to train both at home and away every weekend. The first local race for the U14s is a giant slalom Jan. 18-19 at Marmot Basin.
The U12s will race at Marmot Basin Jan. 25-26. The U16 group will race Jan. 9-12 at Norquay in Banff for their first races of the season. The U10 group will race at home March 1-2 at the Jasper Junior Olympics.
Jasper racers Jacqueline Proc and Patrick Mahler have been vying for a spot to represent Alberta at the 2015 Canada Winter Games and attended another training camp at Nakiska last weekend with Jasper Ski Team Technical Director Gilbert Wall.
Their recent training camp saw wind gusts up to 140 km/hr, but still they had quality training, sports psychology sessions and information on nutrition. The process for selection is ongoing and athletes are vying for seven female and seven male spots to race in alpine events and skier cross. There will be another training camp in the spring and a final selection in December 2014.
The Canada Winter Games will see over 100,000 athletes from across the country competing in various winter sports in February 2015.
The athletes who compete in the games are Canada’s future Olympians in the making.