The Sportcheck Alpine and National Ski-cross championships wrapped up at Red Mountain on Sunday.
Over 250 of Canada’s best skiers competed in Slalom, Giant Slalom, Ski Cross and Team Dual Race events, and despite delays due to white-out conditions during Saturday’s finals, the skies cleared for the final day of racing on Sunday.
In ski-cross, Cultus Lake product Reece Howden and Kelowna’s Kelsey Serwa were crowned the 2018 National Ski Cross Champions on Saturday to close out a wildly successful season for the Canada Ski Cross Team.
“There were some really difficult heats today, including the last two,” Howden said in an Alpine Canada release. “Everyone was pushing hard and there were a lot of guys out here today who have the skills to be on top but it worked out for me today. There was a lot of passing in the finals. Out of the gate I was in fourth so I had some work to do. I’m super stoked to be the national champion.”
As for Serwa, who captured gold at the Olympic Games a month ago and battled silver medalist Brittany Phelan in Saturday’s final, the return to Red Mountain brought back many good memories.
“Today was great and the course held up really well,” said Serwa. “Everyone had a great attitude. The organizers were great, the volunteers were great, the coaches were great. Some really good racing out there and I didn’t feel like I could let up on any heat, which is really a testament to the depth of talent in this country.
“I started my ski cross career at RED Mountain back in 2008 so it feels nostalgic to be back here again. It’s a great community that’s really welcomed us in with open arms.”
It was a tight race in the men’s event with four Canada Ski Cross team athletes gunning for the Canadian Champion title. Howden, Ian Deans of Kelowna, and Kevin Drury and Trent McCarthy made it to the big final and battled it out the whole way down. Howden came out on top today with Deans finishing in second-place and Drury rounding out the national podium in third-place.
Trevor Philp of Calgary picked up his third straight Giant Slalom Canadian title on the last day of racing, Sunday, and the fourth in his career. Philp was sitting in second-place after the first run but was able to put the hammer down on the second run to win today’s race by 0.57 seconds.
“It was a great day of racing out, despite some variable snow conditions,” said Philp. “There were some hard sections and some soft sections. The second run was really turny so I just tried to keep the speed going from turn to turn. I’m happy with the end result here today.”
The U19 Men’s giant slalom title went to Jamie Casselman from Panorama, with Justion Vittecoq placing second, and Hunter Watson third.
Snow dumped down all day for the men’s slalom and ladies’ giant slalom national championship races on Saturay.
Valérie Grenier (Mont-Tremblant, Que.) defended her giant slalom national title for the second year in a row, winning by 0.10 and Erik Read was named the men’s slalom national champion for the third time in his career.
Grenier made up time on her second run after sitting in fourth-place after her first run. Grenier won the second run by .44 seconds.
“I’m happy I could make up time today and it was a nice surprise to be on the podium.” said Grenier.
Joining Grenier on the podium were fellow National Team athletes, Candace Crawford and Erin Mielzynski, making it the second podium in as many days for the three teammates.
In the women’s slalom on Friday, Mielzynski turned the tables winning gold, Crawford claimed silver, and Grenier raced to a bronze medal.
On the men’s side, the Read brothers from Calgary went one and two with older brother Erik Read finishing in first-place and Jeffrey Read finishing 1.64 seconds back in second-place. Rounding out the men’s slalom national podium was James Crawford of Whistler.
“We’ve had all sorts of weather in Rossland and today we had some snow thrown at us,” said Erik Read. “Trevor [Philp] threw down a great first run so I knew I had to have a great second run to catch him. Unfortunately he went out but I’m really happy to be National Champ. I think the National Championships are really important in Canada so I’m super happy to have the title today. It’s really great to be racing with some of the younger guys who are bringing new and great energy into ski racing.”
“Racing Erik [Read] here is like the good old days chasing him down the track,” added Jeffery Read. “It was great to have him as a pace-setter. It’s always nicer when I beat him but I couldn’t catch him today.”
Katie Fleckenstein claimed the U19 ladies’ giant slalom title. Joining her on the podium was Sydney Mason of the Craigleith Ski Club in second-place and Panorama’s Alyssa Hill in third-place.
Whistler’s Declan McCormack was crowned the U19 men’s slalom national champion. Asher Jordan, also a Whistler skier, finished in second-place and Panorama’s Jamie Casselman finished in third-place.