An Invermere teen is heading to Penticton later this month to test her mettle in the BC Winter Games alpine ski events.
Grade 8 David Thompson Secondary School student Cory Martin has been racing since she was six or seven years old, and said that representing the Kootenay Zone in the giant slalom and slalom in the Games will be the highlight of her career so far.
“I haven’t done anything like this before. It will be the biggest race I’ve ever done,” she said, adding she’s keeping her goals simple and just wants to stay on her feet and make it across the finish line with a respectable showing.
“It’s hard to make a goal about which place I want to finish, because I’ve never competed at this level,” said Cory. “It’s all of B.C. I just hope to have fun, post a good result with a good time and not crash.”
In alpine skiing, high speeds and narrow margins mean that crashing can be the difference between a top finish and not even qualifying — something that was on Cory’s mind during the BC Winter Games alpine skiing qualifying event held recently in Rossland.
During the qualifying weekend, Cory had to do four giant slalom races and two slalom races. Racers were awarded points based on the best 50 per cent of their race results, and a crash in any of the races would have put a big dent in any racer’s hopes of making it to the Games. Fortunately, Cory sailed down the course with no mishaps and posted times good enough to earn her trip to Penticton.
“It’s great. I’m really excited and I’ve heard (the Games) are a really good experience,” she said.
The BC Winter Games, which is held every two years, is open to Under-14 kids (those 12 or 13 years old). As a 13-year-old, Cory thought she might have an advantage over many of the 12-year-old skiers in qualifying, but wasn’t 100 per cent certain it would pan out.
“I was hoping I would qualify for the Games. As a second-year U14 (a 13 year old), I thought I had a good shot, but I didn’t really know,” she said. “With skiing you never know, because one crash and it’s over.”
Cory got into skiing as a kid thanks to her parents and says she can’t imagine not doing the sport.
“I love the speed, the competition and the intensity of (ski) racing,” she said.
Valley badminton team heads to BC Winter Games
The Kootenay Zone Under-14 (U-14) badminton team that’s on their way to the BC Winter Games this year is comprised entirely of Upper Columbia Valley athletes.
The all-valley squad is no coincidence and is a trend that occurs at every BC Winter Games (which are held every two years) since Kootenay zone badminton coach Colin Sherk lives in Invermere and the team trials are held here.
“We’ve had a badminton team at the BC Winter Games since 2008 and I keep trying to pull in players from other communities, but it’s not easy because there are no coaches in the other communities, and it’s a big commitment for players who are generally new to the sport to commute all the way from other Kootenay communities to practices in Invermere,” said Sherk. “Having an U-14 Kootenay team at the Games basically started as a way to drum up support for the high school team (Sherk is also the David Thompson Secondary School badminton coach) when the U-14 players get a bit older. The U-14 team is mostly Grade 7 students, although this year there is one Grade 8 student and a Grade 6 student, and almost all of them have never played badminton before.”
This year’s team comprises of Finn Bourke, Nolan Douglas, Tate Hetherington, Hailey Jukes, Haley Kubian, Dana McIntosh, Harley Prymak, Madeleine Sherk, Jacob Taylor and Devin Woodworth. Christine Sherk is the assistant coach.
Trials for the team started in October, and the team of 10 — five boys and five girls — was selected by late October. They have continued to train four hours each Sunday since then.
“Since they’re all beginners, what I’m looking for as a coach is sportsmanship and enthusiasm. Physical aptitude is the least of my consideration. And this approach usually results in a really good team,” said Sherk. “It will be great if they win a few matches at the Games, but that’s just gravy. My main goal as coach is to get them to the point where they can play effectively, enjoy being on the court and have a lot of fun. I’d love to have some of them pick up the sport for life and be playing into their 60s, 70s or 80s.”
During the Games, the players will compete on their own as individuals and as pairs in singles, doubles and mixed doubles. Then, there will be the team event, in which the Kootenay Zone team will play matches against each other zone team, with the Kootenay team having four singles simultaneously play four singles from the other team, and three Kootenay doubles pairs playing three doubles pairs from the other team. If the Kootenay Zone team has more of its players win in these matches than the other team, the Kootenay Zone team then advances.
“My hope is that all of them will get to play a little bit of singles, a little bit of doubles and a little bit of mixed, and that way get exposure to a variety of types of badminton,” said Sherk.
The team has approximately 50 hours of training under its belt, and is playing well and looking forward to the Games, according to Sherk.
“They are pumped. You never know what the kids are going to be like each year, because it is a new sport for them, but generally they all seem to like it, and this year is no exception. They are pretty excited,” he said. “The BC Games are great — they are like a mini-Olympics, with an opening ceremony and a lot of hype. They really do a lot to get the kids engaged and it shows.”
Many of the badminton players try out for the Kootenay Zone team simply out of curiosity about the sport, according to Sherk.
“A lot of them have seen it just a little bit in elementary school (in gym class) and want to see what a real, fast-paced game looks like. Some of them just want to try something new, and badminton certainly is a different sport,” he said, adding most of the players have a background in some other sport before trying badminton.
The BC Winter Games will be held in Penticton this year from February 25th to 28th. Visit www.bcgames.org.