Fierce competitors become giggling pals when ski competitions triple the fun. Relay races still have all the muscle and bustle of the conventional competitions, but there is an added element of outlandish fun.
With team names like The Glitter Bombs out of the Bulkley Valley and the Yellow Snow Squad from Larch Hills or the Plaidiators representing the Sovereign Lake club, these events had the look and feel of a frivolous romp on the ski trails, especially when all the costumes and face paint were also factored in. But skiers are skiers and these were still races, so these athletes still had some fire in their bellies even if those bellies were laughing at the end if it all.
Each relay team is comprised of three skiers, who took turns burning around the course at the Caledonia Nordic Ski Centre in Prince George for the Teck BC Championships. More than 110 teams competed in seven age brackets. Most teams represented their home ski clubs, but there were even some who linked up from club amalgamations.
So what’s the secret to a winning relay formula? The science is still being done on that one.
“Team spirit? Everyone’s fast?,” wondered Quinn O’Shea, 17, from the Hollyburn Ski Club. “We didn’t train for it, but we love it. We didn’t have to tag each other, this year, so we just had to kinda go for it.”
“It wasn’t as exciting this year, I like the old way better,” said fellow Hollyburn racer Ryan Goodwin, 16, referring to the COVID precaution of no physical contact to exchange one skier’s leg to the next. “It’s definitely a highlight of the weekend getting to race with the team and have fun with names and costumes.”
Deez was the title O’Shae’s trio raced under with Aidan Hay and Eamon Wilson.
Goodwin’s squad went by the moniker Nuts and mixed in Mattias Parker and Dustin Hay.
Both raced in the U20 Men’s event, each skier powering through 3 kms en route to the final finish.
The Pocket Rockets hit the trail in the U10 Girls & Boys event, each racer responsible for 1 km. The trio from the Telemark Nordic Club of West Kelowna were short of stature, short of verbiage, but long on happy faces and excitement about skiing.
“It was a long drive,” said Grace Szabadi.
“It’s super fun,” said Ryker Ulansky.
“There’s a lot of teamwork,” said Liam Aaserud
“The secret to a great relay race is team spirit – keeping your teammates positive, cheering your teammates on,” said 16-year-old Marin Lowe. “The race is never over until you’re all done.”
Her teammates were Anna Segelken and Juliet Pulfrey, 14 and 16 respectively, all from the Hollyburn Ski Club from Cypress Mountain in West Vancouver. They raced under the name glam JAM fam slamming their initials into an acronym.
“I know the real secret to good relay racing,” said Alessia Galvagno, 15, who raced with Breagh Bridge and Kiara Pighin representing the Telemark Club in the U20 Women’s event. She leaned in while her teammates giggled in the background. “The real secret is glitter!”
What else would you expect from a team dubbed Ski Like A Girl! with the exclamation point mandatory? Except a whole lot of the male skiers also wore glitter. The spectators just have to shrug and appreciate all athletes for who they are on the cross-country course – be it ski or life.
The relays are the final cherry on top of the racing Sunday, at typical ski events. They allow for some wild expression, some steam to be let off, and some extra special memories to be created.
Many of these athletes were seen hugging out their goodbyes and even shedding some tears for friends they were going to miss, regardless of what uniform they wore. Many only get to see each other once in a while, at random race events around the province. They are competitors on the track, but many are close confidants once the planks are off the feet. Theirs are friendships forged in ice and packed tight as a snowball. They relayed that message loud and clear at the Teck BC Championships.