By Joshua Estabrooks
Special to The Pioneer
Local skiers Amelia Smart and Keegan Sharp played a big role in helping the Canadian team reclaim the prestigious Whistler Cup title last weekend.
The rising stars with the Panorama Ski Club traveled to Whistler ahead of the weekend competition, and through good results this season and in practices leading up to the event, were selected among the three under-16 boys and three under-16 girls who comprised the Canadian team.
In whats become one of the largest international junior ski races for the worlds best up-and-coming young racers, Canada was crowned the top overall team with 267 points at the three-day event. Norway finished second with 178 points, and Japan placed third with 127.
Amelia received the Nancy Greene Award for being the Canadian girl who accumulated the most points over the three days of competition, while Keegan claimed a silver medal in the mens under-16 giant slalom.
For 15-year-old Amelia, who has been skiing since she was 3 years old, receiving the Nancy Greene Award for placing first in the giant slalom and third in the slalom was a real honour.
I was hopeful going into the competition, but it was still unexpected, she said.
This was Amelias second trip to the Whistler Cup, so knowing what to expect definitely played a role in her success this year, she said.
Keegan, 16, was happy with his results given the conditions and the equipment he had to use, but in the words of his mentor, fictional car racer Ricky Bobby (a character played by Will Ferrell). iIf youre not first, youre last, he said.
I was expecting much more because I know what I am capable of, he said. I am used to skiing in Panorama, which is a harder packed snow with a heavy duty ski, but Whistlers snow was much softer so my skis sank in. Overall, I am happy with the silver.
Keegan also placed fourth in the giant slalom race, and said having a father who was a national team coach has helped in his development as a skier.
I started skiing at 16 months old, so Ive been doing it for a long time, he said. My ultimate dreams are to be able to go to the Olympics and to race in the World Cup.
Both skiers competed against approximately 80 other racers from around the world in each of their events, and are happy to have helped team Canada reclaim its title.
Canada won the Whistler Cup, presented by Rio Tinto Alcan, four out of five years prior to 2012 but lost the title to Switzerland last year; so reclaiming top honours was particularly sweet for a determined team skiing in front of a home crowd.