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Michael O'Flynn of Beaumont, Alta., and Kristen Tarchuk of Banff, Alta., won the opening downhill races Tuesday at the fourth stop on the Pontiac GMC Cup alpine skiing circuit.
In the men's downhill, O'Flynn clocked first in 1:18.19 edging Sean Cochrane of Prince George, B.C., second in 1:18.25. James Finlayson of
Whistler, B.C., back on the slopes after a two-year hiatus, nearly fell at the top but recovered to place third in 1:18.41.
The 20-year-old O'Flynn knew he had to change his race strategy after placing fifth in both training runs.
“I took off a lot on the line that I had been skiing in training and went for it,” said O'Flynn, a member of the Alberta Ski Team. “I am extremely pleased because I've had a really up and down season.”
Cochrane, 22, was closer to winning than he expected after a difficult run.
“I need to clean up my act,” said Cochrane, who won both training runs. “I made mistakes throughout the course and it just added up. The conditions were perfect. I'm not sure what went wrong.”
In the women's race, Tarchuk, a 16-year-old grade 11 student, clocked one minute and 23.33 seconds for the victory. Charlotte Whitney of Whistler, B.C., was second at 1:23.41 and Megan Kidston of 100 Mile House, B.C., was third in 1:23.63.
“Everything just came together for me in today`s race,” said Tarchuk. “It was a great course to race on. I hope to get some experience here and
head to the Pontiac GMC Canadian championships with some confidence.”
Whitney, 17, appeared on track for a great race as well but ran into trouble in the second half of her run.
“At the bottom I got off line with the sun and shade affecting my vision,” said Whitney, who is headed to the Canada Games after this competition
ends on Friday. “It's a very technical course and to be successful you have to ski well.”
The Pontiac GMC Cup Series is a developmental series for Canada's young skiers who aspire to compete at the World Cup and Olympic level. It
returned in 1998 and was formerly the Pontiac Cup Series from 1969 to 1981 which produced such champions as Ken Read, and World Cup champions
Laurie Graham, Steve Podborski, Todd Brooker and Kathy and Laurie Kreiner.
In recent years, the Pontiac GMC Cup has seen the success helping build Canada's development system. Every woman's champion since 1998 – Christina Risler, St