Castlegar teen Heiko Ihns took the overall title at the U14 alpine skiing provincial championships held at Red Mountain March 18-20.
Over the three days Ihns competed against 90 other skiers in two slalom races on Friday, two giant slalom races on Saturday, and one giant slalom race on Sunday which encompassed two runs with a combined time.
Ihns’ ended his first race on the first day with a tie for first with Ethan Shandro from Whistler, the third place finisher was only 0.03 seconds behind. “The race started off well for me,” said Ihns. “It was a very tight race.”
The second slalom race also went well with Ihns finishing 0.13 seconds behind Isaac Athans from Apex for second place.
The second day was more of a struggle. The first race saw very close times among the leaders with the top 5 all finishing within 0.75 seconds of each other and Ihns in fifth. “The second run however went worse as I crashed near the top of the course and that was the end of my day,” explained Ihns. “I was a little disappointed in myself after Saturday’s results, but I knew with a first place finish for me and a third place or worse finish from the points leader after Saturday, I could still win the overall.”
“On Sunday, I knew I would have to ski my best if I had any chance at the overall title,” said Ihns. After the first run, he was in first place by around half a second with the points leader tied for second place. The second run in a combined race works a bit differently, in that the top 30 finishers get their start order in reverse order from their finish place of the first run (30th place starts first and 1st place starts 30th), meaning Ihns would ski last.
“In between the runs the snow conditions changed a lot because of the warm temperatures, from being quite hard and fast to very soft and sticky,” said Ihns. “On my last run of the weekend I knew I would need a little luck to win the overall.”
Here is Ihns’ description of the run: “Near the middle of my run I made a pretty big mistake which put me in a bad position (not balanced and not on the line I wanted to be on) — but I recovered and in my head I made the decision to go for it, all or nothing. It was risky since you are prone to making big mistakes going as straight as you can. I just took it gate by gate and just tried to remember how to ski fast. The risk paid off as I skied my best down the final steep pitch coming towards the finish and won the race by 1.47 seconds.”
Ihns is thankful for the help of his Red Mountain Racers coaches, especially for Jonah who helped with the course and Mike who helped with choosing the right wax for his skis.
The overall win qualifies Ihns to be part of the BC ski team, which consists of the top there finishers. This means he will go on to compete at the Whistler Cup, an international ski race coming up in a few weeks. He will also be invited to a training camp in May at Sun Peaks which he plans to attend. “Being named to BC team means a lot to me because it’s been my goal since the end of last year,” said Ihns.