© Herald Photo by Dave Leaderhouse
Local members of the Lakeland District alpine ski team were out at the Kinsmen Ski Hill this week getting in some final practise sessions in preparation for the 2014 Saskatchewan Winter Games to be held in Prince Albert next week. The Lakeland District squad is made up mostly of members of the Prince Albert Alpine Race Team, but there is also representation from the Wapiti Skil Hill, which will be the site of the competitions during the Games. Alpine racing will be held during the first three days of the Winter Games with the Lakeland District expecting a strong showing as they have been competing at numerous other big events this winter. Shown in the photo are members of the team who were at Thursday's practise session. Front row, from left, Emma Young, Hollis Finlayson, Hannah Thoms, Melissa Bzowey and Madisyn Grasby. In the back row, from left, are Jake Diehl, Cole Rybka, Andrew Creusot, Rhett Regnier, Aidan Young and coach Robin Finlayson. Missing from the photo are Isaiah Krip, Andreas Horner, Brittany Aasen and Caleb Isbister.
For those who want to take a little drive early next week, Wapiti Ski Hill (located near Gronlid) would probably be a good destination as that facility will be hosting the alpine ski event during the 2014 Saskatchewan Winter Games.
From a spectator’s perspective it will be entertaining and for the Lakeland District it is expected to produce plenty of medals as the local contingent enters the event with a lot of confidence.
“I think we’ll do very well,” says Lakeland District coach Robin Finlayson. “At the Sask Cup 1 (earlier this year) we medalled in every event and we were second in the province as a team. All year we have been doing very well.”
The Lakeland District ski team is composed largely of members from the Prince Albert Alpine Race Team so familiarity with each other will not be an issue. Adjusting to the conditions is about all that stands in the way from a long line-up to the podium.
The alpine event at the Games will consist of just slalom racing with competitors in three age classes – under-12, under-14 and under-16 – skiing the course in an individual format and then later in head-to-head matches against skiers from other districts.
Medals will be presented in both disciplines for male and female divisions according to each age class.
The team was formed from a trial held at Table Mountain (near North Battleford) earlier this year, but the Winter Games is just one stop in a busy season for the Prince Albert Alpine Race Team.
With a total of 13 members, the group trains twice a week at the Kinsmen Ski Hill and then on most weekends heads out to Table Mountain for a day of practise on the larger facility.
The team has already competed in a pair of provincial series races and following the Winter Games will take in three more to complete the race schedule. The final Sask Cup race is in Mission Ridge with some members then heading to Whistler, B.C., for a competition and others taking part in a race at Lake Louise in April.
The Prince Albert Alpine Race Team is part of a lengthy program that begins with the Nancy Greene Ski League and progresses through different levels until they qualify for the race squad.
“The Nancy Greene is a feeder group for our team,” explains Finlayson of the introductory program for skiers between the ages of four and 13 and totals about 50 members. “Kids get identified (there) and asked if they want to ski with the (race) team. They need to make a commitment.”
“Fundamentals are developed through Nancy Greene and the race team works on techniques,” adds Finlayson. “After that they get on the course and work on tactics (for racing).”
Finlayson notes that the staff at the Kinsmen Ski Hill is more than accommodating for their needs as they often work the runs to make conditions different so that the racers can be better prepared for what might greet them at bigger venues.
Finlayson, a former world-class water skier when he was younger and has switched from water to snow, is pleased with how the local ski scene has developed and says there is always room for more.
Anyone wanting more information on alpine skiing in Prince Albert and area is urged to go to the Sask. Alpine website or call the Kinsmen Ski Hill at 306-763-5454 and someone will be more than willing to point them in the right direction.
A lot of hard work has gone into getting ready for the Winter Games and now it is time to see if the competitors will be rewarded for their efforts. One thing is for certain, the group plans to have a memorable experience.