In the middle of their 2018-2019 race season, 11 members of the Golden Kicking Horse Alpine Team (GKHAT) travelled to Fernie for the U12/U14 Western Ski Cross on February 22.
This was the first experience for many athletes at a ski cross event, but that did not dampen their excitement.
After a morning of training, Friday wrapped up with the completion of a time trial. The athletes went into Saturday seeded into race heats and eager for two days of racing. In a single elimination race format, the skiers participated in heats of four racers, with the goal of finishing in the top two to move on to the next round. Competition in the zone is fierce, but the 11 GKHAT athletes showed the strength of alpine training at Kicking Horse Mountain Resort. All 11 skiers improved immensely with every run through the course, giving spectators fast and action-packed races to watch.
Aziza Rubinstein (second and third), Saumya Kumar (seventh and second), AJ Laurell (fourth and sixth) and Tarik Van Wieren (seventh) raced their way through four rounds and celebrated top eight finishes in races on Saturday and Sunday, treating the coaches and local fans to many fast and exciting races.
The team of U12 racers then geared up for the Kootenay Zone Slalom race at Whitewater and the next stop on the Western Ski Cross Series at Big White, while the U6, U8, and U10 skiers raced at Kicking Horse Mountain Resort the following weekend in GKHAT’s Nancy Greene Ski League race on Sunday, March 3.
Five GKHAT U12 athletes traveled to Whitewater March 2 and 3 for the second Kootenay Zone Ski Race of the 2019 season. The athletes participated in four slalom races over the two days, in a tough field of racers from Lake Louise, Fernie, Kimberley, Whitewater, and Red Mountain. Three U12 girls and two U12 boys collected 11 top 10 finishes over two days of racing. AJ Laurell was on the podium after a strong weekend on the Slalom course (winning third three times and second once), while Saumya Kumar (fourth and fifth), Tyler Burns (seventh twice and 10th once) and Liam Duggan (ninth and 10th) also raced their way to top 10 finishes. The GKHAT U12 team has one more race to wrap up the 2019 season at the Zone Finals in Fernie on April 6 and 7.
Meanwhile, most of GKHAT’s athletes were on the Mountain at Kicking Horse Mountain Resort this weekend racing in their annual Nancy Greene Ski League race. Although the day was a cold one, the temperatures did not dampen the spirits of the racers (including racers from Fernie and Kimberley). The 157 racers kept the heat on Big Ben through the steep and fast giant slalom race course and fun heats on the ski cross course.