Whitehorse Daily Star

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Photo by Dustin Cook

REPEAT CHAMPS – (Left) Bella Mouchet makes her way into the Mount McIntyre stadium during the midget girl’s 4-kilometre free technique Don Sumanik Memorial race Saturday; (Right) Amanda Thomson and Colin Abbott are awarded the trophies for fastest combined times in the two races.

Abbott, Thomson defend Don Sumanik titles

The final weekend of the Don Sumanik Memorial Races caused weather challenges for the competitors,

By Dustin Cook on December 18, 2017

The final weekend of the Don Sumanik Memorial Races caused weather challenges for the competitors, but you wouldn’t know it from the smiles and excitement on everyone’s faces during Saturday’s meet at Mount McIntyre.

The second event of the series on Saturday was set to be a classic style race, but due to lack of snow thanks to above zero temperatures, they were forced to race a free technique style race for the second week in a row.

The course for the older categories was also moved away from the stadium to the trails around Fireweed Hut for a 3.3-kilometre loop.

As the classic style race requires more snow to lay in a track, chief of race Kyle Janzen said there wasn’t enough snow for the race but the manufactured snow still in existence from earlier in the season allowed them to adjust the free technique race course to compete in that style for a second weekend in a row.

Janzen credited the hard work of all the volunteers and coaches who filled the stadium and the ski club chalet to organize the festivities for the competitors.

Following the races, which started around noon, an awards banquet was held in the chalet with the top three in each race being recognized as well as the top male and female overall with combined times in both races.

Colin Abbott took the overall title on the men’s side for the second straight year to win the Don Sumanik Memorial trophy even though he didn’t have the fastest time in Saturday’s race.

He was beaten by 15-year-old Derek Deuling by nine seconds who finished in a time of 23:03.

But Abbott beat Deuling by 14 seconds in the first race of the series Dec. 9 to take the combined total by a tight six seconds.

Derek’s older brother Marcus Deuling finished just four seconds back of Abbott in the open men’s division, but did not compete in the first race last weekend.

On the women’s side, junior girl’s racer Amanda Thomson took the trophy for the second straight year.

The three junior and juvenile girl racers had the fastest times on the women’s side with no competitors in the open women’s division.

Thomson took a major lead into the second race finishing 35 seconds ahead of her closest competitor in the opening 5.2-km free race.

The second race was more of a battle with Thomson finishing only nine seconds ahead of Hannah Jirousek who was followed closely behind by Sonjaa Schmidt.

“So far it’s been pretty good. I was competing at an outside race a couple weekends ago and it went well for me,” Thomson said of her racing season so far. “These two races were also pretty nice.”

With the tough weather conditions, Thomson said the trails were a little bit slower than they were used to earlier in the season as a result of the manufactured snow from the new snowmaking machines owned by the club.

Thomson is now looking ahead to the Haywood NorAm world junior trials at the beginning of January in Quebec.

It is unclear if she has qualified yet for the meet which is also paired with the Olympic Games Trials, Thomson said, noting it is based on points in races.

Along with the older competitive divisions, Saturday’s race saw up and coming athletes from as young as six get out on the trails in shorter races in the stadium.

In the midget races, Kate Mason won both events on the girl’s side followed in both races by Constance Lapointe in second and Abigail Jirousek in third.

On the boy’s side, Isidore Champagne won the midget race over Noah Connell by 21 seconds.

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