Larch Hills skiers performed well and helped B.C. move to the top of the rankings in the Western Canadian Championships held at the Telemark Nordic Club in West Kelowna, Feb. 8-10.
A grand total of 49 Larch Hills junior racers competed in the championships. All together, the event hosted more than 500 nordic racers from across western Canada, and also drew skiers from Ontario and Washington to hit the Okanagan ski trails. The four western provinces and two territories competed for the overall championship trophy, with B.C. athletes accumulating a total of 5,819 aggregate points to win the trophy, nearly doubling second place Alberta with 2821 points.
The weekend started with a free technique sprints qualification round Friday, where the top 30 athletes in each category moved on to elimination heats. Larch Hills skiers earned six top-five finishes, with Maggie Rodwell finishing fourth in the junior girls 1 category and Zara Bucher taking second. Julianne Moore and Samantha Vukadinovic placed third and fourth in the juvenile girls 1 category. Trond May topped the podium with a first place in the Juvenile Boys 2 category, and Hilary Vukadinovic placed fifth in midget girls.
Saturday was a mass-start classic race with anywhere from 40 to 50 skiers competing in each category. In the midget categories, Hilary Vukadinovic won the gold medal for the girls and Frankie Ayotte the bronze medal for the boys. In the juvenile categories, Julianne Moore and Isabelle Wilkie earned the silver and bronze medals respectively, with Zara Bucher and Samantha Vukadinovic finishing fourth and fifth for the girls and Trond May earning a fourth place in the boys’ category. The junior girls and boys categories saw a fifth place finish for Maggie Rodwell and a fourth place finish for Ben Van Bergeyk.
Chilly temperatures on Sunday delayed the start of the divisional free technique relay races but that didn’t stop B.C. athletes from earning 17 of a possible 24 relay medals. Provincial relay teams are comprised of three skiers from clubs across the province. Larch Hills skiers Samantha Vukadinovic and Trond May were members of juvenile relay teams, earning silver medals; Sophia Van Varseveld was a member of the bronze medal juvenile girls’ team and Maggie Beckner earned a bronze medal as part of a junior girls’ relay team.
Salmon Arm can be proud of their cross-country ski team, which consistently performs extremely well against teams from across Canada.
Larch Hills will be hosting the next race in the competitive circuit, the B.C. Cup Championships, March 1-3.
Submitted by Lisa Wherry