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Valjas, Nishikawa Win Frozen Thunder Classic Sprint

Lenny Valjas sprints to a sizable win in the 2015 Frozen Thunder classic sprint on Oct. 26. (Photo:Pav Sudrich/CCC)

Lenny Valjas sprints to a sizable win in the 2015 Frozen Thunder classic sprint on Oct. 26. (Photo:Pav Sudrich/CCC)

(Press release)

The 2015/16 race season got underway on Monday with the WinSport Frozen Thunder classic sprint race at the Canmore Nordic Centre in Canmore, Alberta. It will be a historic season for Canadian skiing, featuring Ski Tour Canada 2016, a series of 8 World Cup ski races that will finish in Canmore on March 12.

The Frozen Thunder course is made up of snow preserved from the previous season with the addition of natural and artificial snow when available. This season’s course is a little shorter than in the past at 1 kilometer, due to warmer temperatures last year that limited artificial snow production.

Many of Canada’s top racers were in attendance for the races that were held at temperatures just a bit above 0 degrees Celsius.

The Frozen Thunder loop at the Canmore Nordic Centre in late October 2015. (Photo: Drew Goldsack/CCC)

The Frozen Thunder loop at the Canmore Nordic Centre in late October 2015. (Photo: Drew Goldsack/CCC)

The event began with an individual time trial that seeded the athletes for the “Kings Court” heats that followed to determine final position.  The “Kings Court” format ensures that athletes get 3 additional opportunities to test their sprinting abilities on the day. After each of the Kings Court heats, the top 2 athletes move up the “ladder” and the bottom 2 move down to determine the final order.

Lenny Valjas continued his strong performances winning each of the heats and comfortably capturing the 2015 WinSport title. Local skier Jesse Cockney captured silver representing Foothills Nordic and 3rd went to his team mate Ivan Babikov who was a bit surprised to do so well for a change, in a sprint event.

“Frozen Thunder sprint, season opener…..aaaand I made it to the Final. #Podium #Whaaaaat,” Babikov wrote on Instagram.

In the morning time trial, Valjas of Team Hardwood and Emily Nishikawa of Whitehorse set the standard with 4 second margins over their nearest competitors. Time trial results

The top junior man was Gareth Williams of Telemark Ski Club, with Canmore’s Ty Godfrey in second and Dan Merlo of Black Jack in third.

On the women’s side, Nishikawa continued her strong performances from last year, with the sprint win, followed by Andrea Dupont of Rocky Mountain Racers and Dahria Beatty of Whitehorse.

The junior woman’s event was won by Katie Weaver of Hollyburn, with teammate Annika Richardson in second and Delphine Duvernay-Tardif of Montériski in third.

Complete Results

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