THIS week in the North Shore News we're looking back at the biggest moments in North Shore sports for 2012.
In this issue, focusing on July to December, we check in with the L.A. Lakers, say hello to the Swiss Miss and take a trip to Jolly Old England for the biggest spectacle in the sporting world. Enjoy!
? North Vancouver's Filip Peliwo opened the summer season with a win for the ages, claiming the Wimbledon junior boys tennis championship with a 7-5, 6-4 win over Luke Saville in the final.
With the win Peliwo added his name to a long list of tennis legends such as Roger Federer, Ivan Lendl and Stefan Edberg who have won a Wimbledon junior title.
"To win a Grand Slam is one of my biggest achievements and to do it at Wimbledon, the most prestigious tournament, it's great," Peliwo said. "To be put together with names like Federer, to have my name in history with one of the all time greats, it's a great feeling."
? The month of August brought the spectacle of the London Olympics and the North Shore was well represented in Jolly Old England, sending 10 athletes to the Games.
There were stirring highs and crushing lows for the North Shore athletes. Rower Lauren Wilkinson reached the highest, striking silver with the Canadian women's eight team that finished second behind the United States on Lake Dorney.
The Canadians made a late charge in the final to try to reel in the U.S. team, the defending Olympic champs, who are undefeated in international competition since 2005, but came up just short.
"You know that feeling you get when you first wake up in the morning and nothing feels real?" Wilkinson said after receiving her medal. "That's what it feels like now. I know we gave what we had, and we emptied the tank. But it still hasn't hit this was an Olympic final." Wilkinson, 22, was the youngest member of the team and one of only two Olympic rookies on the crew.
Things didn't turn out quite as well for Lauren's older brother Michael. Two hours before Lauren won silver, Michael was on the water finishing fifth in a semifinal with the men's four crew, considered to be a dark horse team for a medal. Michael and the Canadian team went on to finish third in the B final, good enough for ninth overall.
Zach Bell, a Yukon native who lives in North Vancouver, raced for gold in track cycling but came up short in the omnium. Considered a strong medal threat, Bell finished eighth after picking up a bad score in the points race, one of the event's six races. In his racing career this was only the second time Bell had failed to reach the top-3 in an omnium race.
Coquitlam's Brittany Rogers, who trains at North Vancouver's Flicka Gymnastics, competed in the women's vault individual final and finished seventh. First-time Olympian Blake Worsley, a North Vancouver native, finished 17th in the men's 200-m freestyle and placed 14th as a member of Canada's 4x200-m relay team.
West Vancouver windsurfers Nikola Girke and Zac Plavsic both made it to the 10-person RS-X medal races in what will likely be the last ever Olympic windsurfer competition (it's being replaced by kite-surfing in 2016). Plavsic sailed with a broken board through much of the final race and finished last, leaving him in eighth place for the competition. Girke also finished last in the medal race and ended up 10th overall for the competition. Also on the water, West Vancouver's Hunter Lowden, partnering with Gordon Cook, did not make the medal final in the men's 49er sailing competition.
The biggest heartbreak for the North Shore crew was North Vancouver's Tiffany Foster, whose horse Victor was disqualified from the equestrian jumping event due to a cut on its left front leg. The DQ led to a storm of controversy as the Canadian team fought in vain to have the decision overturned.
"What happened today was devastating to me,'' Foster said while sobbing in an emotional press conferences held after the decision was announced. "I understand why this rule is in place, and why they look for hypersensitivity in horses, but I would never jeopardize the welfare of my horse. I feel bad for my team, and I am disappointed that this is how my first Olympic Games will end."
The final North Shore athlete to hit the Olympic stage was 22-year-old Jessica Smith who put in a strong effort to make the semifinals of the women's 800-metre race.
Running in her first Olympic Games, Smith finished second in her opening heat to advance to the semifinals by posting a time of 2: 07.75 in a relatively slow heat.
The pace quickened considerably in the semifinals and Smith pushed hard to qualify for the final, racing with the leaders for much of the two laps, but ran out of gas in the final sprint to the finish, ending up in seventh place with a time of 2: 01.90.
"Qualifying for the semifinal was a huge accomplishment, just to qualify for the Olympics was a dream come true but to reach the semifinals was the cherry on top," Smith said. "Unfortunately I couldn't stay up there, but I definitely have no regrets."
? One current and one former teen tennis star brought a lot of buzz to the Odlum Brown VanOpen held annually at the Hollyburn Country Club in August.
North Vancouver teen tennis phenom Filip Peliwo, fresh off his Wimbledon junior championship, moved up to the senior ranks to take on veteran pro Jimmy Wang of Taiwan in a centre court feature match. Peliwo kept it close in the first, battling off two set points while down 5-4 to eventually send the set to a tiebreaker. In the tiebreak he again fell behind, struggling early to trail 4-1, but recovered with a comeback punctuated by a scorching forehand winner to tie it at 4-4. That, however, was the high point of the match for Peliwo as Wang would go on to win the next three points to take the set before taking complete control in the second to win 76(4), 6-0.
One day later it was retired Swiss superstar Martina Hingis who took centre stage at the VanOpen, taking on Canadian pro Sharon Fichman in an exhibition match. Charming the crowd with verbal jousts at her opponent, the umpires and even the crowd, Hingis kept the mood light.
"No more drop shots," she yelled at Fichman after the Canadian made her sprint to the net one too many times. On the next point, of course, Hingis scored with a delicate drop shot of her own. Hingis, in fact, displayed a whole arsenal of shots in the match, showing the skill that made her a tennis legend and holder of several 'youngest-ever' distinctions dating back to her time as a teen sensation. The 31-year-old took the match 6-3, 6-3 over Fichman.
Fun and games aside, there was some real pro tennis played at Hollyburn as well with Igor Sijsling of the Netherlands defeating Ukraine's Sergei Bubka 6-1, 7-5 in the men's final and Mallory Burdette topping Jessica Pegula 6-3, 60 in an all-American women's final.
? The North Shore Twins rode an incredible August hot streak all the way to the championship final of the B.C. Premier Baseball League, scoring upset after upset en route to a second-place showing in the province.
The Twins ended the regular season in eighth place, putting themselves into a three-game series against the No. 1-ranked Langley Blaze, a team that scored the most runs and allowed the fewest in a dominant season-long performance. But the Twins, who relied heavily on a strong pitching staff all year, scored back-to-back shutouts in a doubleheader in Langley to douse the Blaze.
In game 1 Twins ace Kyle Olver, the league leader in strikeouts, took the mound and put in a commanding performance, scattering three hits and one walk while striking out three in a complete game, seven-inning shutout. In game 2 Jordan Kellof took the mound and pitched to contact, giving up some hits but relying on his defence to make plays. Those wins earned the Twins a trip to the final four where they battled all the way to the championship final against the Okanagan Athletics where their streak finally came to an end. With the top pitchers from both teams burned up by earlier games, the final came down to a hitting contest and the Athletics belted a few more shots, winning 9-7.
The Twins won nine straight games before finally losing that championship final.
"For the kids to go on a run like that was amazing," said head coach Larson Bauck. "They just put everything together and started playing their best baseball at the most opportune time and they all came together as a group. It was phenomenal to see."
For coach Bauck the team's great run wasn't the only little miracle going on - two days before the Langley series, he and his wife welcomed their first child, a boy named Hudson.
"I got out of the hospital and basically headed straight to the park," said Bauck with a chuckle. "It was an interesting couple of weeks.
? In his first summer as a professional golfer North Vancouver's Eugene Wong proved that the incredible play he demonstrated as an amateur could be translated into success against the big boys.
The Handsworth grad turned pro after a stellar career at the University of Oregon that included a Nicklaus Award as the top golfer in the NCAA. It didn't take long for the paycheques to stack up as Wong won three pro tournaments in a row during a scorching stretch of play in late summer.
The streak started with an amazing victory at the Canadian Tour Championship where Wong dunked a nine-iron from 133 yards for eagle on the 18th hole to win by one stroke. He then went on the win the Vancouver Golf Tour's Vancouver Open and finished the three-for-three run with a victory at the Canadian Tour's Great Waterway Classic.
? The Canadian women's wheelchair basketball finished sixth at the London 2012 Paralympic Games, falling short of the medals despite some outstanding stats put up by West Vancouver's Janet McLachlan.
The Canadians advanced to the playoffs with
a 3-1 record in preliminary play but their march to the podium was halted in the quarterfinals with a 67-55 loss to the United States Tuesday.
McLachlan scored a game-high 31 points and 13 rebounds in the loss. A former standup basketball player who suffered a serious knee injury while playing rugby, McLachlan ended up second in the tournament with a 26.0 points per game average. Her 16.7 rebounds per game average was tops in the tournament by a wide margin and she also led the event in blocks per game.
? Filip Peliwo's dream season culminated in September with a 6-2, 2-6, 7-5 win over Liam Brody in the U.S. Open junior boys championship final that gave him his second Grand Slam title of the season and solidified him as the No. 1ranked junior player in the world for 2012.
In his breakthrough season Peliwo finished runner-up at the Australian and French Opens before finally reaching the top at Wimbledon and then again in New York. He is the first player to reach all four junior Grand Slam finals since Australian Mark Kratzmann did it in 1984.
Peliwo has never lacked confidence - he's proclaimed since age 8 that he wants to be No. 1 in the world - but he admits that one year ago he had little idea that this was coming.
"I wasn't sure how the year was going to go - I was hoping for maybe one good result in a Grand Slam, to maybe make a semifinal or final," Peliwo said. "I wasn't sure what to expect exactly because I didn't really have any great results the year before. This really came as a surprise. . . . It's definitely been a great year and one that I couldn't have imagined at the beginning of the year."
? High achiever Sebastian Salas continued his mastery of Mother Nature's Stairmaster, winning his fifth consecutive Grouse Grind Mountain Run in a time of 27 minutes four seconds. Salas was more than two minutes off his official Grind record time of 25: 01 set in 2010 but he still ran away from the field, winning by more than 90 seconds.
"I love the atmosphere, the competitors and the challenge each year," Salas said. "It is pure 100 per cent effort every time I do the Grind but I really had to dig deep this year. I wasn't as fast as last year but I am still incredibly happy to win today. I recommend all Grouse Grinders take part in this race as it truly encourages you to push yourself harder and better your Grind time."
October ? The rebooted Argyle Pipers senior football team marked a few milestones Oct. 13, playing their first home game and getting their first win since the program folded 31 years prior.
The Pipers stormed to a 36-0 win over Eric Hamber secondary Saturday in the first home game played at Argyle since 1981. The school restarted its football program last fall but through one year of Tier 2 play in 2011 and half a season of AA ball in 2012 they had yet to taste victory before the matchup against Hamber. They had also not experienced a home game. That all changed in a big way when the Pipers, played onto the field before the game by a bagpiper, proceeded to make a little school history.
"All of the (players) were so excited to be part of this," said Dave Heskin, co-head coach along with Milan Boljuncic. "We'd hyped it up, we'd hyped up the fact that this was this homecoming and it was a big special game and you're going to be part of history here because you're part of the team that restarted the program. They were all so excited to see that we came out with a win in front of the crowd."
A large crowd of parents, students, junior players and fans showed up to watch despite a torrential downpour that greeted the teams at the start of the game. One interested party on the sidelines was Dave Backie, the last Piper head coach who guided the team before it folded in the early 1980s. Backie's presence provided inspiration for the new regime.
"That was really neat for Milan and I as the coaches - it was the passing of the torch, so to speak," said Heskin.
? Picked dead last, 60th overall, in the 2012 NBA draft, North Vancouver's Robert Sacré showed enough during preseason play that he earned an opening day roster spot with the famed Los Angeles Lakers.
"I was so fortunate to come to a great team," Sacré said. "Some people get drafted last and they don't go to the most famous team in the NBA. I was fortunate enough to come to the best team, the most prestigious team, and I am honoured. . . . It really couldn't turn out any better for me. I feel so fortunate. I have Steve (Nash) here, I'm playing with some of the greatest players and the coaching staff has been so good with me. It's just been a perfect situation for me."
? The West Vancouver Highlanders topped off a season of redemption with a performance for the ages that earned them a playoff spot just two years after the team folded midway through the 2010 campaign due to a lack of players.
Quarterback Johnny Franklin threw for 317 yards and six touchdowns while also rushing for 114 yards and two more scores in a 62-30 win over New Westminster on Oct. 26 that clinched a spot in the playoffs for the Highlanders and eliminated the Hyacks.
"He was pretty unreal," West Van head coach Shawn Anderson said. "We had to pull out all the stops and we really started to use (Johnny) both as a running quarterback and just to let him throw the ball as well. He made some great passes."
The Highlanders then racked up an opening round playoff win over Kelowna's Rutland secondary before bowing out to No.1-ranked W.J. Mouat in the provincial quarterfinals.
The Windsor Dukes, meanwhile, won five straight games, including a 21-14 playoff victory over Belmont, during a late season surge in AA football action. Their season ended after they put up a valiant fight against the defending champion Mission Roadrunners but eventually fell 21-7 in a provincial quarterfinal.
November ? The Collingwood and Handsworth senior girls field hockey teams battled in a shocking North Shore championship final in November before turning their attention to the rest of the province.
Collingwood, the top-ranked AA team, upset Handsworth, the No. 1 AAA team, 2-1 in a classic North Shore final that saw the Cavaliers withstand attack after attack from the Royals while scoring opportunistic goals when they needed them.
"I can't even put it into words," said Collingwood co-captain Leah Frome who scored both goals for the Cavs. "It was the most amazing feeling today. I'm really speechless about it. It was so much fun to do as a team as opposed to individuals. We just pulled it off together."
The good times got even better for the Cavaliers later in the month when they defeated Shawnigan Lake 1-0 in the provincial AA final, avenging a loss to the same team in the 2011 final.
"It really meant a lot to the girls to win provincials and they really wanted to play Shawnigan in the final and to beat them for their own sense of accomplishment," said Ashleigh Gold, Cavaliers co-coach along with Catherine Underwood and Sara Bruner. "(Shawnigan) is a very well-coached team but it felt great to come back and defeat them in the final."
If the Royals were hurting from the loss in the North Shore final they certainly didn't show in their provincial run as they smashed Cowichan secondary 4-0 in the B.C. championship game to claim their second straight title.
? Sentinel secondary's cross-country running team scored two podium finishes - one an emphatic blaze of glory and the other a bit of delayed gratification - at the provincial championships held in November in Prince George.
Grade 10 runner Nicole Hutchinson provided the fireworks, warming up the icy course with a wire-to-wire win to become the third ever North Shore girl to claim a provincial cross-country title.
"She really just left it all out there - she barely made it across the line but she did and it was a great victory," said coach Hugh Wilson. "It took around 40 minutes to get her up and about but we finally got some chicken soup into her and she felt great again."
Sentinel's other medal came with a bit of confusion. At the award ceremony the girls' team was announced as the seventh-place finisher. A parent, however, checked the results online and noticed that one of the school's runners had not been counted. Organizers checked race photos and video, verified the mistake and bumped the Spartans all the way up to third place. Team totals come from a school's top five racers and along with Hutchinson the Spartans had Janna Maclean finish 43rd, Michelle Cheung 44th, Kelsey Shellard 56th and Mia Dommann 114th.
? The University of British Columbia women's field hockey team, led by a powerful little rookie from North Vancouver named Hannah Haughn, won their 14th CIS national title Nov. 4 at the University of Toronto's Varsity Centre.
Haughn was named the tournament MVP following the Thunderbird's 3-0 win over the host team in the championship final. UBC ended the tournament with a 4-0-1 record, capping off an undefeated 12-0-1 season with their second consecutive national title and third in the last four years.
The five-foot-three midfielder was a force on both ends of the field, setting up numerous goals and earning MVP honours despite not notching a single goal in the tournament.
The MVP nod, however, wasn't the only accolade Haughn earned as the season wrapped up. Before the tournament began the Handsworth grad and senior national team member earned both the Canada West field hockey rookie of the year and the CIS rookie of the year awards while also being named a second-team All-Canadian. Following her national championship performance Haughn was named both the Canada West and CIS female athlete of the week. She ended the Canada West regular season tied for the league lead in goals with teammate Kate Gillis with seven apiece.
? Basketball season began with a bang for two North Shore schools as the Handsworth and Argyle senior girls teams both made it to the final of the prestigious Telus Basketball Classic tournament by knocking off some of the top teams in the province.
Argyle, ranked No. 9 heading into the event, caused the biggest stir by upsetting the de-facto No. 1 Brookswood Bobcats 86-77 in the semifinals.
Handsworth, however, had the last laugh as they topped Argyle 53-46 to win the first all-North Shore final in the tournament's 13-year history. Handsworth was led by the Grade 12 backcourt duo of shooting guard Elisa Homer who scored 25 in the final and point guard Abby Dixon who coolly drained two clutch three pointers in the final minutes to give the Royals the win.
"I think seeing two of the biggest schools on the North Shore going at it in one of the biggest tournaments of the whole senior basketball season was just huge," said Argyle coach Anthony Fortunaso. "I think we put on a good show."
? Longtime West Vancouver friends Morgan Rielly and Griffin Reinhart will get to live out the dream of every young Canadian hockey player this holiday season as members of Team Canada for the 2013 IIHF World Junior Championship in Ufa, Russia.
The two defencemen were both named to the squad following a selection camp held in Calgary in mid-December.
It certainly won't be the first time the two have shared a blueline. The duo met as four-year-olds in Hollyburn Country Club's Cookie Monsters program and grew up together as members of the Hollyburn Huskies.
The tournament begins Boxing Day.