Race Report: 2023 Whistler BC Cup
Wednesday February 8, 2023
Bulkley Valley Nordic skiers make impressive strides at Whistler BC Cup
Submitted by Patrick Williston, BV Nordics
Twenty-two Nordic ski racers from Smithers made the long trek over the Duffy Lake Road to Whistler for BC Cup 1, January 7 and 8. On offer for the weekend, classic sprint races on Saturday and a distance skate race on Sunday.
This event featured the top skiers in British Columbia with solid representation from the coast and the Okanagan. Bulkley Valley ranked a surprising 5th in registered racers, outnumbering bigger clubs Prince George and Sovereign Lake Nordic in Vernon, the largest ski club in Canada.
A long summer and fall of dryland training (strength, running, and roller skiing) in addition to high quality on-snow efforts in November and December led to impressive performances from Bulkley Valley athletes on the steep Callaghan Valley trails. Team moral was high throughout the weekend, providing a vapor barrier against the intermittent drizzle that is a common feature of Whistler Olympic Park.
Waxing for the classic sprints was a challenge owing to rain on snow and plus two degrees Celsius. After testing a range of waxes, head coach Andrew Brisbin and wax lead Patrick Williston landed on a recipe that included some skiers simply racing on a wax pocket roughened by 80-grit sandpaper and no wax at all, so called ‘hairy’ skis (a reference to the tiny hairs of plastic lifted by sanding). This proved highly effective and supported fast skis. Some Bulkley Valley athletes charged up the hills on skis smeared with expensive Italian klister—also with good results.
Highlights on the first day of racing included a powerful finishing kick from U18 skier Mila Woodstra, who edged past a skier at the finish line to come first in her heat. Miles and Ethan Rosenberger were 1st to qualify for their ages, while brother Finn qualified 2nd. Ava Wimbush had the 4th fastest qualifying time among all U20 females and 1st for her age, while U12 athlete Juliette Fleury-Allen qualified 3rd for her age. Jesse Wimbush and Nico Gagnon both landed in the top 10 of the highly competitive U16 boys category. Masters skiers Ryan Chapman (2nd) and Ben Forsyth (9th) made the best of deteriorating late afternoon conditions on a 3.3 km classic prologue.
Day two was about maximum glide—a skate race on the courses that only thirteen years earlier saw legendary Norwegian skier Marit Bjørgen claim three Olympic gold medals, a silver, and a bronze. The Rosenberger boys from Bulkley Valley all raced to podium positions: Myles (1st), Ethan (1st), and Finn (3rd), as did Juliette Fleury-Allen (3rd). Ethan Chapman showed excellent technique and crossed the line 1.5 seconds after Bulkley Valley teammate Hugo Forsyth, both in the top 10 for their ages. Gigi Gagnon, a U12 skier, had two top 10 finishes over the weekend. Brothers Isaac and Elliot Cullen skied with tremendous poise, finishing 11 and 12 in a deep field of U14 boys with more than 20 athletes. Morgan Hamhuis cruised to 4th among U14 girls her age.
Jesse Wimbush led teammates Alex Forsyth and Daniel Woodstra in the U16 boys category with a 5th place finish. Masters Ryan Chapman and Dan Hamhuis landed 2nd and 4th in their category as afternoon showers intensified on the 10 km course. U16 athlete Sacha Fleury-Allen came 6th as did U18 athlete Chloe Williston. Finley Gagnon had a top 10 race and teammate Ava Wimbush landed 2nd on the day among athletes her age. Ava reached a top speed of 65 km/hour on the demanding 5 km course to finish 1.1 seconds ahead of the next racer. This small difference was just enough for Ava to earn an invitation to join Team BC and compete at the Canada Winter Games in Prince Edward Island, February 27 to March 5, 2023.
A tired and thoroughly saturated Bulkley Valley Nordic Ski Team packed up and headed for home on Sunday afternoon with most completing the journey on Monday morning—just enough time to dry the gear and prepare for training Tuesday night under the lights at our home trails. There is more racing to come in February and March for this highly motivated team of Bulkley Valley Nordic skiers.