IN this issue of the North Shore News we race down memory lane to look back at the biggest headlines in North And West Vancouver sports from January to June, 2011.
Happy Holidays and enjoy the ride!
- The Evergreen Squash Club was once again the site for the North Shore's first big sporting event of the year as England's Daryl Selby won his second title in three years at the Comfort Inn Open Jan. 16. Selby, ranked No. 10 in the world at the time, beat Egypt's Hisham Ashour in the final, three games to two after 59 minutes of intense play.
"The contrasting styles of the players was compelling," tournament co-ordinator David Marley said of the final, which saw Selby's conservative, hard-working style up against Ashour's flashier game. "It was a thrilling match to watch and it was played with a sense that both players enjoyed the experience and respected each other while playing their hearts out."
- West Vancouver's Alex Kerfoot scored the gamewinning goal at the 2011 B.C. Hockey Major Midget League all-star game in January, earning second star honours for his two-goal effort. In the fall Kerfoot moved on to the BCHL's Coquitlam Express for the 2011-12 season and continued to shine in all-star formats, scoring crucial goals to help Canada West win the World Junior A Hockey Challenge in November. His overtime goal pushed Canada West passed Sweden in the semifinals and his two points - a goal and an assist - helped his team top Canada East in the championship game held in Langley.
- Zach Bell of North Vancouver won a silver medal in the omnium event at a UCI Track Cycling World Cup event in Beijing, China on Jan. 23, clinching first place in the overall World Cup standings for omnium for the 2010-11 season. Bell kept up his winning ways once he got back on the track in the fall, finishing second in the omnium in his first race of the 2011-12 season held in Colombia in November. The omnium, an event made up of six different styles of track races, will make its Olympic debut in London in 2012 and Bell should be a medal favourite.
- A high-speed crash ended the season for North Vancouver skier Manuel Osborne-Paradis Jan. 29 in Chamonix, France, setting off a strange year for the two-time Olympian. In the World Cup downhill race Osborne-Paradis was contend-ing for a podium finish when he fell backwards and flew for several metres before careening into the course's safety netting at 120 kilometres per hour. He suffered a broken left leg, tore his ACL and picked up some bruised ribs in the crash.
Manny returned to the sporting world in July when he raced the grueling BC Bike Race, his repaired leg responding well to the rigours of a seven-day mountain bike stage race.
Just a few weeks later, however, he was back in the headlines after suffering a bad case of road rash and a fair bit of embarrassment after an apparent mishap involving a party bus at the Calgary Stampede. Calgary police reported that Osborne-Paradis lost his balance and fell onto the trailer hitch of the bus, at which point a piece of his clothing caught on the hitch and he was dragged for about 80 metres before another motorist got the driver to stop the bus. The police news release said that he was taken to hospital with "severe road rash to his buttocks." He was given a $115 ticket for the incident, which set back his recovery time from the crash in January.
In November Manny said he was eyeing a World Cup race scheduled for Feb. 2-5, 2012 in Chamonix as a possible venue for his return to the sport's top circuit.
- West Vancouver alpine skier Georgia Simmerling won her first ever race in the Nor-Am Cup - a ski circuit one step below the World Cup - Feb. 14 in Aspen, Colo. The following day, however, she crashed and was sidelined for the rest of the season. When she returned to competition in December it was in a different sport: ski cross. Simmerling made her World Cup debut in rough and tumble ski cross Dec. 17 and 18 in Italy and made a good early impression, finishing 11th and then 9th in the first two races of her career.
- The Handsworth Royals senior girls basketball team won their sixth consecutive North Shore title with a 64-54 win over Argyle in the championship final Feb. 16. The Royals were two-time defending provincial champions at the time
but had lost most of their key players to graduation. They'd also lost both of the regular season matchups against Argyle earlier in the year, but they found a way to come through in the playoffs. Jamie Hills led Handsworth with 24 points in the final.
"It was no great season for us, but we're really young and part of our game has just been trying to get better each week," Royals head coach Scott Palmer said. "That's been happening. I've been very pleased how that's been progressing over the past three months. The girls really found another level to take their game to and it was a good night to find it."
- North Vancouver gymnast Kal Nemier had a terrific trip to the Canada Winter Games in Halifax in February, bringing back a five-medal haul.
The Sentinel secondary student won bronze for vault, bronze for rings, silver for his floor routine, a silver medal for his all-around performance and helped British Columbia bring back a silver team medal as well.
"It was better than my expectations," Nemier said. "No way was I expecting to come out with five."
- The Capilano Blues women's basketball team won a thrilling 68-67 victory over UBC Okanagan March 5 to claim their first BCCAA provincial title since 1988. Jenna Ralston earned herself a place in Capilano Blues history when she nailed a three-pointer with three seconds left in the game to seal the come-from-behind win. Jessica Franz - named tournament MVP, BCCAA player of the year and an AllCanadian - led the Blues with 18 points in the final.
- North Shore speedsters Jessica Smith and Helen Crofts dominated the middle distance races at the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics indoor championships held in Ohio, with Smith winning the 1,500-metre race and Crofts setting a new NAIA record while winning the 800 m.
Crofts and Smith were at it again May 28 at the NAIA outdoor track and field championships in Marion, Ind.
Crofts set a new NAIA record in the 800 metres, finishing in 2: 02.12 to break a 25-year-old record set by her current coach, Brit Townsend. Smith repeated as winner in the 1,500 metres in 4: 24.58, shaving more than three seconds off last year's run. Both were part of the 3,200metre relay team that set an NAIA record time of 8: 41.76.
The outdoor meet ended Smith's track and field career at Simon Fraser University, where she and Crofts formed the backbone of a powerful running team. Crofts, meanwhile, was named SFU's Female Athlete of the Year for winning NAIA 800-m titles indoors and outdoors, breaking the NAIA record in each race.
- The Vancouver North West Giants, a B.C. Major Midget team with a roster of primarily North Shore players, went on an impressive run in 2011, winning provincial and regional championships to make it to the Telus Cup national championships.
The Giants captured their third consecutive B.C. Major Midget League Championship March 19 with a 6-2 win over the Cariboo Cougars in Game 2 of the best-of-three series to move on to the Pacific Midget Regional Championship. At the regional championship the Giants beat the Red Deer Rebels in two straight games to win their best of three series and avenge a loss to Red Deer in the 2010 regional championship. It was the first time a B.C. team had ever beaten Alberta since the Pacific regional playoff was established in 2004.
The run ended at the Telus Cup where the Giants started the tournament very strongly but faded at the end, losing their last three games, including an overtime loss in the semifinals and another heartbreaking loss in the bronze medal game.
Despite the fourth place finish, Alex Kerfoot was named tournament MVP after notching nine goals and 13 assists while Sam Reinhart, who finished second in points behind Kerfoot, took home trophies for top scorer and top forward.
Giants head coach Todd Harkins said his team, which included several 15-year-olds who spent the tournament battling for the puck with 17year-olds, put B.C. hockey back on the map. "Within 24 hours we were starting to think about next year," he said.
- Members of the North Shore athletics community were shocked and saddened to learn that longtime high school coach and administrator Jim Martin died in a house fire May 9.
Late in the evening the fire broke out in the top suite of the house where Martin lived and quickly spread through the building. Two tenants who were renting a downstairs suite managed to get out of the house. When firefighters arrived the top half of the house was engulfed in flames.
A lifelong North Shore resident, Martin coached at many of the local high schools, was a longtime member of the Capilano Rugby Club and served a term as the director of the North Shore Secondary Schools Athletics Association.
"Jim was such a fixture for youth athletics. He inspired so many people to coach and go on to be involved," said friend and former North Shore News sports editor Jan Christian Sorensen. "He was the man behind the curtain for North Shore sports. He was always on the field at a game."
- West Van FC defeated the Peace Arch Dragons in a penalty kick shootout to win the Men's Masters provincial title at Aldergrove Athletic Park May 15. Stellar goalkeeping from West Vancouver's Jason Maros and Peace Arch's Steve Lucovic kept the game scoreless through 120 minutes. Maros made several brilliant saves in the penalty kick shootout and for his efforts was chosen as the game's Most Valuable Player.
The win earned West Van a place in the Western Canadian Masters Soccer Championships, which they hosted in October. The team went on to win the West in front of their home crowd at Ambleside Park, defeating the Calgary Callies 1-0 in an intense championship final. West Van's Bill Shokar opened the scoring 10 minutes into the final with a header off of a corner kick from Brian Gibson and then held off Calgary the rest of the way. Gibson was named tournament MVP.
- The North Shore U18 elite girls BCO volleyball team earned bronze at the club-level national championships held in Abbotsford May 13-15. In the bronze medal match the North Shore girls trailed 7-2 in the third set to the Ontario-based club DRVC but battled back to eventually win 16-14.
The national tournament followed BCO's win over White Rock's Seaside Surf in the provincial championship final. Katie Crawford, an STA grad now attending UBC, and Handsworth's Emily Oxland helped lead the team through their championship run.
On the boys side BCO's U16 team claimed gold in Div. 2 at the Canadian Open Nationals in Calgary May 23. Coach Shon Sim's starting six featured two Grade 8s, two Grade 9s and two Grade 10s.
- The Carson Graham senior girls rugby team won their seventh provincial championship in eight years May 28, hammering second-seeded Cowichan 50-0 in the championship final played in Mill Bay on Vancouver Island.
"It went pretty well," said coach Brad Baker following the game, gunning for an understatement of the year award. "The big thing for us was I think just our Grade 12 girls. We had a pretty strong Grade 12 leadership group that worked hard."
The team lost only one match all season, and that was against one of the top-four ranked teams in New Zealand on a trip that took them to that country and neighbouring Australia for a number of matches.
- North Shore teams dominated the B.C. High School Tennis Championships held at Queen Elizabeth Park in Vancouver in May with West Vancouver's Sentinel Spartans and Collingwood Cavaliers winning their respective AAA and AA divisions. For the Spartans, it was their fourth consecutive provincial title and sixth in the past 10 years after a decisive win over top Vancouver team Magee. The Cavaliers defeated Vancouver Island rivals Brentwood College for their fourth straight B.C. title and fifth in the past decade.
- The Argyle Pipers senior girls soccer team beat Victoria's Claremont Spartans 5-2 in the championship final of the AAA provincial championships held in Kamloops in early June to complete an undefeated season.
"The girls played outstanding," said head coach Darren Rath. "They were extremely focused, I keep saying they were on a mission, sheer determination to graduate as champions."
Jessie de Boer scored eight goals in the tournament for Argyle and set up another five, which won her the golden boot award and the tournament MVP.
The Pipers gained extra satisfaction from the win as the Spartans were the team that Argyle lost to one year prior in the provincial final.
- West Vancouver's Collingwood Cavaliers senior boys rugby team won the provincial AA rugby championship in thrilling fashion with a 28-21 victory over Brentwood College. The top-ranked Cavaliers never led in the championship game against their Vancouver Island opponents until two minutes were left in the match played at Abbotsford's Rotary Stadium. With the score tied 21-21, Connor McRae finished off a great team move to score the deciding points during a frantic finish. A late charge from Brentwood was repelled and Collingwood laid claim to their record sixth provincial AA title.
- North Vancouver's Emma Friesen won gold in one-metre springboard at the Summer Senior National Championships held in Edmonton June 2-5, her first trip to nationals in two years following a long recovery from a broken ankle and serious illness that took her out of the pool for more than 12 months. An NCAA diving champion in 2008, Friesen fractured an ankle in a skateboarding accident in 2009 and then fell ill with a mono-like illness. She spent long hours in the gym and the pool rebuilding her technique and her confidence leading up to the national championships.
"It was really good. I don't really know how to put it," she said, after taking some time to reflect on the last few years. "I think as most athletes know and people know is you get really caught up in looking forward and what's the next best thing, and always progressing, and you forget to take a step back and say 'Wow, look how far I've come.'"