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Whitewater skiers bringing home medals

From left, Whitewater skiers Miika Hartman, Rylie Clark, Madison Clark, Coach Oso Punchard, Raleigh Robertson, Marco Garissi. — Submitted photo

Whitewater Ski Club is sending five athletes to the upcoming BC Winter Games in Dawson Creek, February 20-23.

The five skiers earned spots following a Provincial Zone race held at Red Mountain Ski Hill in Rossland.

The Whitewater contingent, part of a 17-skier team from the Kootenay Zone, includes Madison Clark, Rylie Clark, Miika Hartman, Marco Garissi, and Raleigh Robertson — a group that comprises nearly one third of the entire Kootenay Zone talent pool.

Results from Day one of the zone race at Red Mountain, that saw skiers compete in the U 12 and U14 division, U14 members Miika Hartman and Madison Clark took first and second, respectively in the slalom.

In the U12 race, Dawson Abraham and Flynn Tracey of Whitewater took first and second respectively in their runs.

Day two featured a double elimination dual slalom, that saw the winner fighting it out over the course of the day through upwards of ten runs. Jordan Zdrazil weathered a series of ups and downs, and eventually took home the gold for Whitewater U12 boys.

Rounding out Whitewater’s impressive showing was Canadian ski legend Bobby Swan, who at 75-years young was forced to ski against the U14 boys just to find himself a little competition. Bobby took tenth in slalom, the large crowd doffing their caps appropriately.

These stellar performances are creating a very special vibe within the team. Success seems contagious — a dynamic that isn’t lost on team President Tedd Robertson.

 “It is so great seeing the team working hard together, pushing their individual boundaries to make progress each and every training day,” says Robertson, himself a dedicated skier, and father of two team members.  “And with race results to prove it!"

The Whitewater U16 squad is also making waves, posting incredible results across several disciplines.

During the recent Teck Open in Panorama, several personal best Slalom and GS finishes for the team, most notably a ninth place run for Senna Kenny. They are also testing their tolerance for speed this season, with Whitewater Coach and former Canadian National Team member Sasha Zaitsoff overseeing the team’s Super G training.

The results have been incredible, with Lucy Leishman earning her spot at the Nationals this March with a second-place finish at the Teck Open Super G. Senna Kenny also finished in the top ten, moving ever closer to qualifying for Nationals, and establishing herself as a constant threat.

The U19 FIS squad — Whitewater’s senior members — are keeping up with their younger counterparts as well, racing in the BC and Alberta cup series this season. Made up of Henry Leishman, Sophie Hickson, Liam Lazier, and Lauren Robertson, the FIS team just returned from Lake Louise where they battled against the top racers in North America on the resort’s famous World Cup track.

Head coach Dylan Henderson feels that the relatively new FIS team is a very special entity.

“Our FIS crew is a true underdog story,” says Henderson.

“They’re new to the circuit, have far fewer members and resources, and are in direct competition with teams that train year-round. The fact that they’re consistently finishing mid-pack in this kind of field is incredible. We’re very proud of this aspect of our team.”

Also, in U19 FIS competition this year is Coda Punchard, a long time Whitewater Ski Team member who recently made the switch to skier cross. Coda is organizing his own training, often relying on coaching from other teams, and is testing himself against very tough competition.

Like his former downhill teammates, he is making up for limited resources with an extra helping of hard work.