CALGARY, AB – Fifteen members of Canada’s ladies alpine ski team are in Coronet Peak, NZ to compete in the New Zealand Winter Games, which will provide the first competitive ski races for the national team since off-season training began.
Three Canadian World Cup winners, Geneviève Simard (Val-Morin, QC), Britt Janyk (Whistler, BC) and Emily Brydon (Fernie, BC) are among those participating the New Zealand Winter Games, described by organizers as a unique competition for elite winter sports athletes and a testing ground against world class competition, as preparations continue for the upcoming FIS World Cup season and 2010 Olympic Winter Games.
Kelly VanderBeek (Kitchener, ON), who finished fourth in the downhill event at the 2006 Olympic Winter Games in Turin, ITA, said that even though training in the gym is important it is always a good feeling to be back training on snow.
“It’s out on the hill where our real work gets done. This is the time that will define what kind of ski racer we will be when winter arrives,” said VanderBeek.
Patrick Riml, Director of Ladies CAST and Special Projects, described the Games as the perfect pre-season event to prepare the Ladies team for the high intensity season ahead.
“The team spirit is very good, and emotions and high with everyone looking forward to racing,” said Riml. “The competitive environment of the New Zealand Winter Games keeps the athletes focused and allows the coaches to evaluate where each person is in terms of their training and progress.”
VanderBeek said Coronet Peak offered an excellent training area, with great snowmaking and a relatively low altitude, as the skiers prepare for the World Cup season and the 2010 Olympic Winter Games.
“Participating in these Winter Games will permit us to stay more in touch with racing. It will also keep the intensity high throughout this training camp. We have been training really hard so far this season with a lot of high volume and intensity training sessions,” added VanderBeek.
“We all love New Zealand and enjoy the comforts of being in a society that’s similar to Canada in many ways,” said VanderBeek. “The snow is great and there are a lot of options for different training venues. Plus, since we’ve been here we’ve gotten to train and watch a lot of our top competitors from around the world.”
The schedule includes a super-G Tuesday, followed by a giant slalom August 25 and slalom August 30.
The New Zealand Winter Games expect 800 athletes participating with 30 different countries, competing in a variety of different sports including alpine skiing, free skiing, x-country skiing, snowboarding, curling, ice skating and adaptive snow sports.
Canadians had the top six times and took 12 of the top 13 spots at a FIS race Wednesday used as a warm up for the New Zealand Winter Games. Marie-Michèle Gagnon (Lac-Etchemin, QC) won with a two-run combined time of one minute 44.70 seconds followed by Simard in second and Larisa Yurkiw (Owen Sound, ON) third.
CANADIAN ALPINE SKI TEAM – NEW ZEALAND TRAINING GROUP
SENIOR LADIES - RESIDENCE (SKI CLUBS)
Emily Brydon - Fernie, BC (Fernie Snow Valley Racers)
Marie-Michèle Gagnon - Lac-Etchemin, QC (Mont Orignal)
Britt Janyk - Whistler, BC (Whistler Mountain Ski Club)
Eve Routhier – Sherbrooke, QC (Mont Orford)
Shona Rubens - Canmore, AB (Lake Louise / Sunshine Ski Club)
Geneviève Simard - Val-Morin, QC (Montcalm (Val-St-Côme)
Kelly VanderBeek - Kitchener, ON (Chicopee Ski Club)
LADIES DEVELOPMENT TEAM - RESIDENCE (SKI CLUBS)
Erin Mielzynski – Guelph, ON (Georgian Peaks Ski Club)
Brittany Phelan – Mont Tremblant, QC (Mont-Tremblant Ski Club)
Marie-Pierre Préfontaine – Saint-Sauveur, QC (Club Chanteclerc)
Victoria Whitney – Whistler, BC (Whistler Mountain Ski Club)
ABOUT ALPINE CANADA ALPIN
Alpine Canada Alpin (ACA) is the governing body for alpine ski racing in Canada with more than 50,000 athletes, coaches, officials and volunteer members and over 200,000 supporting members. ACA manages the high performance programs for the athletes of the Canadian Alpine Ski Team and the Canadian Para-Alpine Ski Team who represent Canada throughout the world. For more information on Alpine Canada Alpin, visit www.canski.org.
photos Janos Schmidt