Female racers show largest increase at fifth annual race
The fifth annual Bluebird Banked Slalom was the most successful in the event’s history with 101 skiers and snowboarders taking to the course on 5 Mile’s ‘Hully Gully’ on Feb. 14.
It was the first time the race was at capacity and saw a significant increase in female racers with 31 women registered, 27 of them snowboarders. Organizers focused on growing this segment and Burton included a gift to all female racers. They said they were overwhelmed with the results, as past events had far fewer female riders and skiers.
“It was all smiles. Our women’s category was bigtime. There were some sick riders in our women’s category. We had women all the way from Quebec that came to ride with us,” said Kent Thiessen, race organizer and owner of Oronge Boardshop in Kamloops.
“I think this is the best one that we’ve done. Best course, ran smoothest, it was fantastic.”
Marlie Marchewka of Sun Peaks won the women’s open snowboard category for the fourth consecutive year. Genevieve Pilotto, from Quebec, placed second and Angie Seeley, from Kamloops, placed third. Kareen Tyson won the women’s masters snowboard.
“The greatest thing is the Bluebird (Banked Slalom) is progressing every single year,” Marchewka said. “It’s come so far in such a short amount of time that I can’t wait to
see where it’s going to be in five more years.”
Elizabeth Funk claimed the women’s open ski title with Anne Terwiel finishing second and Alli Wagorn placing third. Izzy Hampton-Stone won the women’s masters ski category.
The men’s open snowboard category was won by Kamloops’ Ross Thompson, with Felix Dallaire in second and Joe Riegler of Sun Peaks in third. Yanik Charron claimed the men’s masters snowboard category with Trevor Bennett placing second and Dustin Ferris finishing third.
Sun Peaks’ Kieran Nikula won the men’s open ski category followed by Graham Funk in second and James Mcleod in third. Jacob Hanson won the men’s masters ski category with Scott Whitecross in second.
“The best part was just the friendship, the comradery, the soul of people up at the hill, the shredding and being a part of the start corral and cheering each other on,” Thiessen said. “There was no negativity up there at all. It didn’t matter who you were, you were getting cheered for and people were excited down the course. It’s just an event that makes you smile.”
The Banked Slalom is one of three main fundraisers for the Bluebird Day Fund, with $15 from each participant’s registration fees going to the fund. The Sun Peaks-based not-for-profit provides support through several programs in the region, including Big Brothers Big Sisters Sport Mentorship Program, Bluebird Park Sessions, and other athletic and community initiatives.
Thiessen said the goal for this year was to reach capacity and now they will have to look at other ways to expand. The course can’t feasibly handle more riders and Thiessen does not anticipate expanding to a two-day event anytime soon.
“We’re going to have to sit back and just evaluate everything,” he said. “You always need to improve. We obviously need to improve, but I don’t know what that next goal is going to be.”