Story and Images by Erich Eichhorn (ISN)
February 23, 2014 Hemlock Valley, BC (ISN) – Three weeks ago the hosts of the BC Winter Games Alpine events may have doubted a ski season let alone a ski competition, but as the winter gods snowed upon local coastal hills the last two weeks, Hemlock Ski Resort and their ski club was able to breath a sigh of relief as their year-long ambition to host the 2014 BC Winter Games Alpine Ski competition was off to the races this weekend.
Boys and girls from across the province descended on Hemlock Mountain, northwest of Abbotsford, in weekend long competition of four ski disciplines – Giant Slalom, Freestyle, Moguls, and Ski Cross. Featuring BC’s youngest, nationally carded group of racers in Canada’s racing system, competitors started or furthered what could aspirations of Olympic proportion.
Slopestyle competitor Seth Mcgregor give a wave to the fans as he goes for big air in new white out ski conditions during the BC Winter Games at Hemlock Mountain. – Erich Eichhorn image ( www.allsportmedia.ca )
After an impressive moguls competition under bright and sunny skies Friday, it was time for giant slalom and freestyle skiing to take the stage Saturday on the snow covered slopes. Ski organizers may have wanted to be careful for what they wished for a month earlier, as what was to otherwise be another fair-weather day turned into a heavy snow day for ski competitors and recreational snowboarders alike.
Hemlock Mountain’s Nick Meitros takes a test run at the giant slalom course in day two action. The giant slalom event would be hampered throughout the weekend by heavy snowfall.- Erich Eichhorn image ( www.allsportmedia.ca )
The girls, with hopes of a gold medal for their efforts, opened the days racing in the Giant Slalom discipline. Those hopes would be put on hold, as the event would unexpectantly be canceled after girls opening runs when conditions on the mountain became too dangerous to continue due to the snow conditions.
Kayse Panke of Red Mountain Ski Club takes her first heat run. An abbreviated schedule would prove to be her only run and take a silver medal.- Erich Eichhorn image ( www.allsportmedia.ca )
Volunteers from the Hemlock Ski team braved -4 degree temperatures for five hours, doing their best to keep the run open, but would eventually give in to the otherwise considered seasonal weather. At days end organizers and Hemlock support staff were hopeful for resumption Sunday morning of both the girls and boys divisions.
Ella Renzoni clears a gate by inches on her way to the bottom of the giant slalom course and a gold medal – Erich Eichhorn image ( www.allsportmedia.ca )
In other games action, the weather wouldn’t slow down the freestyle ski competition as fans were wowed by an afternoon of acrobatic twists, turns and jumps of daring young competitors as they find their way through the all-terrain park, vying for judges top marks. Mount Washinton’s Erin Sketchley, and Whistler’s Lucas Pelletier would strike gold for their respective teams in the youth female and male categories.
Sophie Schroeder, from Big White Ski Club, manages to survive the gate turn during a difficult day of racing. Racing would later be postponed to inclement weather and safety concerns.- Erich Eichhorn image ( www.allsportmedia.ca )
Sunday’s action would prove much the same fate for the boys and girls Giant Slalom. Spectators were expecting some great high-speed competition, however, once again, mother nature would play spoiler for the boys side, forcing a final cancelation in the weekend alpine events with high wind gusts and near white out conditions that left the course crew unable to keep up with the accumulating snow.
Medalists from day two of competition pose with the spoils of victory for ISN- Erich Eichhorn image ( www.allsportmedia.ca )
The resumption of girls Giant Slalom was canceled to give way to allow the boys an opportunity to race one heat. That modification would give Ella Renzoni , of the Whistler Ski Club, the gold medal with a time of 44.63 second. A full second faster than her second place competitor, Kayse Panke.
Hemlock Mountain and the Hemlock Mountain Ski Club hosted the BC Winter Games Alpine events for the first time. By the smiles on the competitors faces, it was a job well done ! – Erich Eichhorn image ( www.allsportmedia.ca )
Higher on the mountain, the girls team ski cross was miraculously able to get underway as ski racers went head to head in a downhill battle through high-banking turns and straight-aways looking to unsteady their opponent just enough to cross the finish line with the best time. In a hotly contested event, the top three girls teams would place by only a .01 sec time differential between each medal.
Flags flew in the competitors village over the three day weekend as BC’s youth converged at Hemlock Mountain vying for a medal as one of the best in the province in their event class – Erich Eichhorn image ( www.allsportmedia.ca )
Top honors would be shared by Meg Swaffield of the Whistler Ski Club and Sophie Schroeder of the Big White Ski Club with a time of 18.09 seconds. Swaffield would also take home the bronze medal in the abbreviated Giant Slalom.
On the final day of competition, six of the best female youth ski cross athelets shared shared two medals in each placing as mulitple tie finish times prevailed. Erich Eichhorn image ( www.allsportmedia.ca )
Congratulations to all competitors. BC’s Winter athletes are certainly worthy of representing the province of BC. with the effort demonstrated by all under difficult conditions.
For more BC Games results go to www.bcgames.org