Panthers love snow

GATE CRASHERS: Level 1 girl Jackie Pivovarov and Level 2 boy Adam Taguchi hope to medal in their respective classes at the Citys Feb. 16.

Lawrence Park dominates TDSSAA alpine races with numbers and raw talent

You won’t find a group of teenagers more smitten with chilly weather and hills of packed powder than Lawrence Park’s ski team.

The reason why is simple: the oft-competitive midtown school has taken a mogul of medals at their first GS meet of the season, Jan. 13.

Level 1 boy Hartley Vibert and Level 1 girl Jessie Gorski snared their own bronze medals. The Level 2 boys — a more experienced crew — swept the podium. Adam Taguchi garnered gold, Kyle Jackson silver and Will Cartar bronze.

It seems snow runs through the veins of students much like Canadian ski champion Nancy Greene runs through downhill gates.

Lawrence Park coach Peter Gilbert is pleased with this year’s squad even though some veterans have moved on.

“We don’t have the strength this year that we’ve had in the past,” he said. “But I think we’ll still qualify three teams, maybe even four teams, for OFSAA.

“We’ve had a bunch of really strong skiers comes through, a lot of them have graduated, but the younger skiers come in,” he added. “We’ve got a lot of kids that ski and we have a lot of kids involved in club racing.”

‘A lot of kids’ is an understatement, as an avalanche of downhillers signed up in the fall.

Taguchi is in awe of the numbers.

“Every year seems to be 50 plus kids,” he said. “It’s actually quite surprising we get so many. Even though kids graduate people seem to come out of nowhere and show up.”

His teammate Gorski agreed.

“I know when I was in grade 9 joining the ski team for the first time I was so surprised to see the amount of people showing up for dryland,” she said. “I thought that it would be a couple of people in each category.”

Gorski credits the success of the program to a close bond among teammates.

“I find that everyone is supportive of each other,” she said. “At the races when I see other teams interacting with each other, I find that we’re just one big group of friends and not just a team.”

Fellow Level 1 Jackie Pivovarov has observed the same camaraderie, however, she also credits Gilbert’s coaching.

“What I’ve learned from my coaches is that it’s all in the mindset,” she said. “If you can think and visualize in yourself doing the course well, you most likely will.

“It also depends on the discipline,” she added. “For GS, I just have to work on getting low and for slalom I really have to work on turning my feet more.”

With a track record of multiple OFSAA gold, including from alumnus Rachel Rennick and other predecessors, Lawrence Park CI has set the standard.

Taguchi admitted it’s a daunting title to live up to.

“OFSAA is kind of a requirement for us,” he said. “If we don’t make it, it’s kind of shameful.”

Their next race, the slalom, will be at the beginning of February. City championships take place Feb. 16.

Gorski summed up the air surrounding the team this season as being competitive but nurturing.

“With all these people you are sharing love for something that most people hate,” she said. “You’ve found a way to live it to the fullest.”

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