(ISN) – Prince George’s Purden Ski Village was the site of the first Giant Slalom Para Female race in the Canada Winter Games’ Alpine skiing event on Monday and it turned out to be a golden opportunity for 14-year-old Mel Pemble.
The Victoria skier raced her way to the top of the podium in her first contest of the 2015 Games.
A few hours later, New Westminster’s Kristina Natalenko, 15, won silver in Giant Slalom Female.
“The nerves came this morning but I tried to push them back and I guess it worked,” said Pemble.
In just her fourth season racing, and her fifth season skiing, Pemble started the day’s event with a conservative approach.
“I took my first run a little more carefully that I would have liked but I was feeling it out,” she said. “I was actually a little surprised at how fast I was on that one. Then by the second run, I went all out.”
Pemble, who also races in able-bodied events, was fourth out of the gates in the eight-woman event. She posted a fast final time and when she looked at the scoreboard, saw that she was in the top spot. The only issue was, there were four skiers still to race.
“I was really hoping for a podium finish coming into this event,” she said. “I wasn’t expecting gold but when I saw how fast I skied I was really happy. The really hard part was the waiting.”
When the final skier’s time was posted Pemble knew the gold was hers. That realization was emotional and took a bit of time to set in.
“The suspense was so hard and when I knew I had gold, there were so many mixed emotions – relief, excitement…I felt really really like ‘oh my god.’ “
For Kristina Natalenko, earning the silver medal was an honour.
“I was really excited and I feel like I really represented B.C.,” said Natalenko. “My second run went better than my first run because I had a cleaner line and I was pretty happy with my ski.”
Though not in medal contention, Team BC Giant Slalom racers finished in the following places: Ella Renzoni (8), Katie Fleckenstein (10), Brook Lukinuk (12), Nicole Mah (16), and Sierra Ashley King (19).
Armstrong’s Chelaine McInroy finished fifth in the Giant Slalom Para Female event.
In other Team BC sporting action on Monday, the ringette team defeated PEI by a score of 7-4. The male curling team remains undefeated; they competed against New Brunswick and won by a point, finishing up 7-6. In wheelchair basketball, B.C. defeated Manitoba by a score of 61-29.
At the CN Centre, B.C.’s female hockey team got its first win against PEI with a final score of 5-1.
Team BC’s male and female target shooters posted two fourth-place finishes in the air rifle contest.