La Niña has provided the Kootenays with prime skiing conditions this winter, from a cold, deep holiday season, to a race-ready high pressure in January, and to the last few weeks some of the best powder skiing in a decade.
The enthusiasm in the air is palpable, and has been rubbing off on Whitewater Ski Team’s formidable roster of athletes and coaches — this year totaling 140 racers and 17 coaches.
Young athletes from the Nancy Greene Ski League have had their work cut out for them this season, with a series of tough race courses at Red Mountain Resort and Phoenix Mountain in Grand Forks.
The dual slalom at Red on Jan. 22 had a steep top section with a tricky cross-slope gate that got the edges chattering.
Meanwhile, at Phoenix Mountain on Jan. 29, a right hand traverse out of the start led to a nearly blind rollover into the first gate, requiring the athletes to take an aggressive, but important leap of faith. There was some minor carnage, but it was fascinating to watch these young racers begin to push their own boundaries, and reap the lessons that only mistakes can teach.
Through it all, the spirit of community and sportsmanship rang true, and the kids got another healthy glimpse into the traditions, friendships, and rewards that an early morning ski race road trip can offer. They also received a healthy dose of poutine, donuts, medals and ribbons for their efforts.
Up next, Salmo will host its annual West Kootenay Nancy Greene zone race, and then Whitewater will host the Zone Finals and Ski Racing Festival on March 4.
As the race season comes to a close, the coaches will keep the focus on fun, with plenty of powder skiing to complement the training. In this way, the team will graduate not only technically proficient ski racers, but lifelong lovers of the sport as well.