Swiss claim Whistler Cup
The Swiss won the Whistler Cup.
The Whistler Cup has, for 20 years now, been the only international ski racing event for children held in North America and has routinely gone to the host Canadians. There were differences this season. The K1 category - for ages under 13 - were held as a festival and not a FIS sanctioned racing event. The K2's, however, ages 13 and 14, were fully sanctioned as usual and presented by Rio Tinto Alcan. The other difference was the Swiss.
Ali Nullmeyer, of Toronto, Ont., was declared the Nancy Greene Award winner as the top girl Canadian point gatherer while the Dave Murray Award, for top Canadian boy, went to Sam Mulligan of Vancouver. Their individual heroics were not quite enough to maintain the honor of remaining top nation among the 18 represented. Canada I finished second and third went to Italy. Teams consisted of three boys and three girls.
Saturday's boys’ K2 slalom was won by Marco Michel, of Switzerland, in 1:23.09. Italy’s Paolo Padello was second (1:23.41). Mulligan, skiing out of the Grouse Mountain Tyee Ski Club, was third thanks to a fantastic second run.
“Yes, yes, really happy,” said Michel. “The second run was really good. I had a good feeling and it worked. It’s the best skiers in the world, so it’s a great feeling.”
“I think they really stepped it up this year,” said Mulligan. “They brought the good Italians and Swiss and I think there’s a lot of really good competition. It will be interesting to see how I do in the giant slalom tomorrow.”
The girls’ giant slalom was won by Jessica Hilzinger, of Liechtenstein, in 1:29.26, followed by Italy’s Beatrice Barbagelata (1:29.90) and Japan’s Narumi Katagiri (1:30.38).
“It was very hard race because there were many good athletes, said Hilzinger, who was second in Friday’s super-G. “But it was very nice, I’m really happy”
Katagiri was especially pleased to find herself on the podium.
“I am very happy to get on the podium because today was the first time I was third in the K2 category,” said Katagiri with the help of a translator. “This course was great because it had a good rhythm change and I liked that.
“The top racers are so good and the fact that I can ski with them builds my confidence. The world is very big, but I’d like to be one of the top racers in the near future.”
The boys’ K2 giant slalom was won by Italy’s Paolo Padello in 1:26.29, while Padello’s teammate Giacomo Scaglione was third (1:26.72). Padello also finished second in Saturday’s slalom. “It’s great, I’m very happy,” he said.
Mulligan got his second podium placing in two days in second. Mulligan, also, was pleased. “It feels great, “ said Mulligan. “I was fifth after the first run and the second run was my last run of the year so I decided to go for it and try to have fun with it. The conditions were pretty awesome for this time of year, so I just went for it and I gave it my all and it turned out great.”
Slovenia’s Andreja Slokar won the K2 girls’ slalom in 1:19.21. Aline Danioth, of Switzerland, was second (1:19.36) and Guro Hvammen, of Norway, was third(1:20.23).
“I’m so happy, I didn’t think I would win,” said Slokar. “My second run wasn’t that good, I almost went out, but I didn’t, so I’m happy.”
Slokar’s win might have been inspired by meeting Slovenia’s World Cup veteran Tina Maze, who attended the Whistler Cup as part of the 20th anniversary celebrations. Maze spent some time with Team Slovenia on Friday.
“I was happy talk to her, I was speechless actually,” said an excited Slokar.
In the girls’ K1 giant slalom, which was based on one run, Carlotta Saracco, of Italy, was first (43.88), Asami Katagiri, of Japan, was second (44.40), and Chelsea Kumono, also of Japan, was third (46.78). The top Canadian for the second straight day was Katie Fleckenstein, of the Whistler Mountain Ski Club, who placed fourth (47.15). In the boys’ K1 slalom, Kuba Sudomericky, of Devil’s Glen Country Club, won in a two-run combined time of 1:08.76. Liam Wallace, of the Sunshine Ski Club, was second (1:09.41) and Japan’s Hayata Wakatsuki was third (1:09.53).
Photo of Swiss team by Whistler.