In the wee hours of Feb. 28, a whopping 22 racers, four coaches and four chaperones boarded a SD 10 bus and charged east through the Kootenay passes to Fernie’s Alpine Resort to participate in the BC School Sports high school Ski and Snowboard provincials.
Holding strong to a traditional showing, the West Kootenay zone was represented by a full squad of boys and girls ski racers and a team of six boys snowboarders and a team of four snowboarding girls; a participation feat that continually shocks coaches and teams from other schools, given Nakusp Secondary School’s (NSS) population of 160 students.
Unlike other BC School Sports events, the Ski and Snowboard provincials are not segregated by a tiring system that evens the playing field ensuring that small schools don’t find themselves on the court or on the field against larger schools with a student population of over 500. However, in the ski and snowboard racing world, our little school in the corner of the west Kootenay zone must compete against any other public or private school in BC that qualifies for the provincials. Yet despite these daunting odds, NSS has been a mainstay competitor at provincials, proving that even smaller underdog schools can field top quality athletes on the provincial stage.
The 2016 ski and snowboard provincials were co-hosted by Fernie Secondary School and Fernie Academy and 16 schools deposited over 250 racers in the Fernie Ski Hill village. Conditions looked bleak as rain hammered down on the mountain. Anxious whispers of less than favorable icy conditions percolated through the coaching population during Sunday’s registration, and questions of the success of the event started to break through the levy of optimism. However, snow riders know that conditions are hardly ever perfect, and the strength and tenacity of the NSS team carried them through the night in preparation to wage war on the mountain the next day.
Well, someone must have done a rain dance or something, because the giant swing that is our weather system shifted during the night and rain turned to snow and snow turned into powder and powder turned into three amazing days of riding on the hill for the athletes.
“You guys are lucky,” remarked one Fernie local, “we have had over two weeks of terrible conditions. This is a shock to everyone. Happy powder day!”
The provincial event involved one day of snowboard racing down a giant slalom (GS) course, a day of GS racing for skiers and afinal day of ski and snowboard racing through a technically smooth terrain GS course. Finish times were totaled to determine individual awards for fastest racer as well as combined team points for gender teams and combined gender team awards.
The ski team had a positive showing with the boy’s team crushing 7th place and the girls racing to an impressive 6th place finish. Combined, the boys and girls ski team earned enough points to climb the provincial podium all the way to 3rd place. Angus Jackson earned a 13th individual finish in a race group of 96 ski racers and stood out as one of two public school athletes to crack the top 20 ranks in the boys ski racing category.
Matt Mckee coached the girls and boys snowboard team to a combined 4th place finish, with the boys coming in hot at 2nd place and the girls garnering a 6th place team finish. Snowboarder Colton Peterson had an exciting first day of racing when his efforts on the GS course found him sitting at the top of the racer heap in first place. Peterson was bumped temporarily to second place on the final day of racing when his terrain GS time was beat by 0.01 seconds, but Peterson soon found himself back in first place when the combined GS and terrain GS results were tallied and announced. Peterson’s combined race timeswere 8.72 seconds faster than the second place finisher; a remarkable difference in a world governed by seconds.
The NSS ski and snowboard trip to Fernie was supported by countless hours of parent volunteers who worked together under the banner of the Summit Lake Racers organization to raise the necessary funds. The student competition was also supportedby donations from the Arrow Lakes Teachers association, the Parental Advisory Committee, Overwaitea and a number of other local business. Racers trained at Summit Lake Ski Hill. The ski and snowboard racers would like to warmly recognize and thankeveryone who made this trip possible.