The Windermere Valley Ski Club & Panorama Mountain Resort welcomed over 130 athletes from 8 clubs to Panorama Mountain last weekend for the first race of the season for the Kootenay Zone U14/U16 SL and GS race series. The ROC managed to deliver 5 races in 3 days, an exceptional experience for all attending clubs.

“The traditional 2-run races are easier to run but don’t allow racers spend a lot of time on their skis,” said Dusan Grasic, Program Director of the Windermere Ski Club. “Racers at this age should spend more time on skis and less time sitting in the lodge and waiting for their run so we decided to host a 3-day event, and attempt to hold 2 SL and 3 GS races over 3 days.”

“We are extremely fortunate to have an experienced ROC that organizes two to three FIS series’ a year,” he continued. “Organizing U16/U14 event gave us an opportunity to bring in new young volunteers to shadow our ROC and run the series in a new race format.”

The first day (Friday) the veteran ski club kicked off with 2 SL races with the start of the first course at the top of the run with two SL runs set. The second/lower course started across from the finish of the upper course and finished at the same spot as GS races would finish Saturday and Sunday.

All the athletes had one inspection of both the upper and lower course in the morning, and again both courses in the afternoon. The ladies started on the lower course and the men started on the upper course…at the same time! With two ROCs running two races simultaneously, the ladies did the loop to the top and the boys just moved over to lower course. Courses on the bottom and on the top counted for one race each. The races ran without a hitch, and with an 8:30am lift load, the crew was done by 2:30pm.

Three GS runs were scheduled for Saturday but Mother Nature had other ideas. Heavy fog resulted in only two runs for the girls and one run for the boys. “The teams were absolute troopers, despite long delays spirits remained high,” Grasic said.

The visibility was better on Sunday and the race organizers were able to complete the second run for the boys from Saturday, as well as two more runs for each gender.

“This proved we can successfully run 3 GS races in two days if the weather cooperates,” Grasic continued. “We believe this format is something we should try again in the future. It kept the racers engaged and moving. It is of course, dependent on weather and snow conditions, but fortunately we have great early season snow making in Panorama, and fog is rare.”

One wildcard factor for hosting an agreessive race schedule such as this is have the adequate timing crews for the SL races, as the format requires two ROCs.

“We would like to express huge thanks to the timing crews, especially from Red Mountain and Fernie,” said Katie Comb, of the WVSC. “We lost internet several times and they just kept going! Also big thanks to Panorama Mountain for their amazing cooperation, the hard-working volunteers from clubs around the zone, the forerunners who were here on vacation from the Northern Ski Team in New Zealand, as well as the coaches and racers who stayed positive and patient while we battled weather delays. All the racers showed great team spirit and sportsmanship!”

Report submitted by Katie Comb and Dusan Grasic