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Sandau Keeps NorAm Streak Alive, Women’s Podium Repeats in Classic Distance Race

Kevin Sandau dominating again.  (Photo: Martin Kaiser)

Kevin Sandau (AWCA) racing to his fourth NorAm distance win in as many races this season at Lappe Nordic in Thunder Bay, Ontario. (Photo: Martin Kaiser)

By Gerry Furseth

The Lappe NorAm in Thunder Bay, Ontario, continued Friday with classic individual starts, and the resulting podiums had a familiar look.

Kevin Sandau of the Alberta World Cup Academy (AWCA) won the 15-kilometre men’s race in 42:10.67, extending his unbeaten streak in NorAm distance races to four wins in as many races this season.  Scott Hill of the Thunder Bay National Development Centre (NDC) placed second, 31.64 seconds back, followed by Para Nordic World Cup Team member Brian McKeever (+1:00.59).

The weather was warmer than Thursday: -11 degrees Celsius (12 Fahrenheit) when the men started, and fresh snow overnight made waxing easier.

[I’m] always a bit apprehensive racing in Lappe as the trails are confusing and a bit hard to memorize,” Sandau wrote in an email. “But after racing here over the past decade I feel like I’m finally starting to familiarize myself with the courses.”

Sandau’s race plan was to start hard. “The course descends pretty much right at the start and the first climbing section is just under 2km in, so that’s a lot of distance I didn’t want to lose time on,” he wrote. “Our support team killed it with the skis today and I could climb up the hills in the track pretty effortlessly.”

Despite having a lead early, Sandau pushed the pace to the end. “Feeling was really good today, and I was seeing stars at the top of climbs,” he wrote.

Hill, 21, achieved his second NorAm podium since placing second in a skiathlon a year ago in Duntroon, Ont. Friday’s second place puts him in contention for a spot on Canada’s U23 World Championships team, which will be racing next month in Romania.  

McKeever seems to be on a lighter racing schedule this season. After the race, McKeever, 36, tweeted, “Hoo boy…racing always hurts, but especially when you’re old! Fun day on the trails, though. Servicemen did a great job!”

Men’s results


Andrea Dupont leading in the series leader's bib. (Photo: Martin Kaiser)

Andrea Dupont in the NorAm leader’s bib on her way to winning Friday’s 10 k classic by 15 seconds at Lappe Nordic in Thunder Bay, Ont. (Photo: Martin Kaiser)

In the women’s 10 k classic on Friday, the podium was identical to Thursday’s sprint. Andrea Dupont of Rocky Mountain Racers (RMR) won in 33:06.45, Jenn Jackson (NDC TBay) was second, 15.12 seconds behind, and Sophie Carrier-Laforte (CNEPH) completed the podium, 30.8 seconds back in third.

By the time the women raced, 41 men had done three laps and 82 juniors had done two laps, and the course had changed.  

With fresh snow over night the track did not set up at all and all the big climbs were herringbone by the time the women started,” Dupont wrote in an email. “Today was a mental toughness day for the women 🙂

My strategy was to go out hard and try and hold my pace,” she added. “I definitely faded in the second lap, but I had caught Sophie in the first lap, so we were able to work together a bit in the second lap. It’s always nice to have company when you’re hurting.”

Jackson felt her race went well, writing in an email, “It wasn’t a knock-out performance, but I had some good dig in the last 3k.”  

Jackson went with a conservative start.

Similar to Houghton, the course started off with a long double pole descent,” Jackson explained. “In that race I went hard off the line and sort of blew my wheels off, so today the goal was to ski the first third comfortably, get into a race effort for the middle part, then go for broke and empty the tank.

The track broke up badly on most of the climbs and it was soft beside the tracks for double pole, so I had to adjust my technique from a hard kick-glide and lots of double pole to more shuffling and light feet to herringbone the climbs.”

The skiathlon is scheduled for Sunday, but with a predicted high of -18 degrees Celsius; schedule or format changes may be necessary.

Women’s results

Complete results 

More photos by Martin Kaiser.

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