WHISTLER, BC (April 8th, 2007) – Richard Long (Collingwood, ON) earned his third consecutive podium finish and was the major driving force all weekend as the host nation won the Sierra Wireless Whistler Cup for the first time in the event’s 15-year history.
Canada ended the competition with 228 points overall, edging out the USA by just six points with Austria finishing third with 190 points.
“It feels good, especially knowing Canada has never done this before. It’s really awesome to be part of the team that was able to do it. It was so close and so tough, I’m really proud of Canada and the whole team,” said Long. “I know people will look back on this with a lot of pride.”
“This is just fantastic, that’s the only word for it. I am absolutely delighted with the whole team’s performance here in Whistler,” said Alpine Canada Alpin’s Eastern Development Director Benoit Lalande. “We had a good little training camp prior to the event and we felt really prepared entering the competition. Everybody did really well. It’s not easy to come into these competitions and perform at the level that these kids were able to perform at,” Lalande said.
Long finished second today in a fog-delayed Boys K2 Giant Slalom race, crossing the finish line in a time of 54.94. Long’s three podiums — victories in the Super G on Friday and Slalom on Saturday along with today’s silver medal — were the key to Canada’s overall Nation’s Cup win. “Some sections of the course were super fast – it was pretty challenging. There was a long delay before my run because of the fog, so I just tried to keep my mind off the race and think of other stuff to stay relaxed and calm,” the 15-year-old Long said about his silver medal performance. Actually, my coach talked to me a lot about a bunch of stuff just to distract me from thinking about my race. There is a lot of weight on my shoulders right now – pressure to win – but I’m enjoying myself and dealing with it OK,” he said.
Canada enjoyed another successful day in Whistler, with seven Canadian athletes grabbing Top 10 finishes highlighted by Long’s silver medal.
Today’s Sierra Wireless Whistler Cup action saw Boys and Girls Giant Slalom races for the K2’s — the 13 and 14-year-old’s — while the K1’s — the 11 and 12-year-old’s — raced in Boys and Girls Slalom races.
In the Girls K1 Slalom there were three Canadians in the Top 10, led by Devon Clarke (Collingwood, ON) who finished in fourth. “I’m really happy with that. I was aiming to be in the Top 10 and I had a really smooth run, so I couldn’t be happier,” said the 13-year-old Clarke.
Kaylie Higgs (Whistler, BC) and Alix Wells (Prince George, BC) finished seventh and 10th respectively to round out the Canadian Top 10 results. Slovenian Nina Znidar won in a two-run time of 1:15.66, remarkably her third win at this year’s Whistler Cup. American Mardene Haskell was second while Daniel Maryna Gasienica was third.
The Boys K1 Slalom was won by Italian Michele Gualazzi in a two-run time of 1:11.69 followed by Andrea Provera of Italy and Finland’s Conrad Planting. Canadians Matthew Segal (Whistler, BC) and Marcus Henry (Calgary, AB) both finished in the Top 10, placing ninth and 10th respectively.
The Girls K2 GS was won by Slovenia’s Ula Hafner in a time of 56.41. “Yesterday my slalom was not so good, so today I didn’t know what to expect. This course today is the best! The snow is great and the set is perfect and very much fun to ski. I’m so happy with my run and I made no mistakes.”
Hafner was followed by Barbora Pyrochtova of the Czech Republic. “The course was built so well – I enjoyed it very much, but there were many bumps which I wasn’t expecting. I had a problem with one of the gates just before the finish and I think I lost time. It wasn’t easy, but it was fun.”
Third spot went to Martina Dubovska of Slovakia. The top Canadian was Camille Gilbert (Val St-Come, QC) in 15th.
The Boys K2 Giant Slalom was won by American Kieffer Christianson. “I knew in the start that it was a really fast course. I wanted to beat Richard, but I didn’t know his time before my race. I knew I had to go all out and that’s what I did. My coach told me what to do in the tight sections at the bottom and it worked. I am usually about equal in slalom and GS – this year I finished second in slalom at Topolino.” Long finished second and Christian Feiersinger of Austria was third. Andrew Solomon (Toronto, ON) finished seventh to round out Canada’s Top 10 performances on the last day of the 2007 Sierra Wireless Whistler Cup.
BC’s Tyler Mackenzie (Sun Peaks), who earned a bronze medal in Friday’s super G, finished 17th in today’s GS and had this to say; "The course was nice, but a little rough and soft in places. The crews have worked so hard to keep the track in good shape. The small delay just before my run was OK because it gave me time with my coach to get a little more prepared."
The Dave Murray Award winners for best overall Canadian Male skiers went to Long in the K2 division and Broderick Thompson (Whistler, BC) in the K1 category.
The Nancy Greene Award winners for best overall Canadian female skiers went to Camille Gilbert in the K2’s and Kailee Darlington (Whistler, BC) in the K1’s.
Today’s races complete the 15th edition of the Sierra Wireless Whistler Cup, one of only two major international ski races for athletes between the ages of 11 to 14 in the world.
LIVE TIMING / UNOFFICIAL RESULTS: Live timing of the Whistler Cup as well as unofficial complete results are available via the Alpine Canada Alpin website: http://canski.live-timing.org/
ABOUT THE SIERRA WIRELESS WHISTLER CUP
The Whistler Cup, which is hosted by the Whistler Mountain Ski Club, is one of only five international ski events for 11 to 14 year olds (K1 & K2), and is the only one in North America. World Cup champions to have participated in the Sierra Wireless Whistler Cup include Austria’s Benjamin Raich, Slovenian Tina Maze and Anja Paerson of Sweden. Some Canadian alumnus of the event includes Erik Guay, Britt Janyk, Allison Forsyth, Emily Brydon, Manuel Osborne-Paradis, Robbie Dixon and Christina Lustenberger.