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2019-20 SUPERTOUR SERIES ANNOUNCED

Press release

Top U.S. cross country athletes will join their Canadian counterparts at seven stops for the 2019-20 SuperTour. The tour is a series of International Ski Federation (FIS) sanctioned cross country events across North America produced by U.S. Ski & Snowboard together with its divisions and clubs.

“The SuperTour is one of U.S. Ski & Snowboard’s longest-running event series, and we’ve seen quite a number of U.S. National Champions, World and Olympic champions compete in SuperTour events over the years,” said U.S. Ski & Snowboard Cross Country Sport Development Manager Bryan Fish.
The SuperTour is a vital component of U.S. Ski & Snowboard’s development program. Leaders of the SuperTour series earn World Cup berths throughout the season. The SuperTour provides top-level racing at key cross country centers and providing a proving ground for club athletes with aspirations of qualifying for the U.S. Ski Team and competing on the FIS World Cup tour and in the Olympics.
This season’s SuperTour features five stops in the United States and two in Canada, including the season opener Dec. 6-8 in Canmore, Alberta, and the SuperTour Finals in Vernon, British Columbia, March 26 through April 2. In between, U.S. stops will include Sun Valley, Idaho, Dec. 14-15; Houghton, Mich., Jan. 2-7; Craftsbury, Vt. Jan. 24-26; Minneapolis, Feb. 16-17 as a test event leading up to the Minneapolis World Cup in March; and the American Birkebeiner, in Cable, Wisc., Feb. 19 and Hayward, Wisc., Feb. 22.
A detailed SuperTour schedule, individual event information, and race results are available at USSkiandSnowboard.org/event-series/supertour
2019-20 U.S. SKI & SNOWBOARD CROSS COUNTRY SUPERTOUR
Period 1
Dec 6-8
Canmore, Alberta, CAN
Men: sprint freestyle, 10k classic, 15k freestyle
Women: sprint freestyle, 5k classic, 10k freestyle
Dec 14-15
Sun Valley, Idaho
Men: sprint classic, 15k freestyle
Women: sprint classic, 10k freestyle
Period 2
Jan. 3-7
Houghton, Mich.
Men: sprint freestyle, 15k freestyle, 30k classic mass-start, sprint classic
Women: sprint freestyle, 10k freestyle, 20k classic mass-start, spring classic
Jan. 24-26
Craftsbury, Vt.
Men: sprint classic, 10k freestyle, 15k classic mass-start
Women: sprint classic, 5k freestyle, 10k classic mass-start
Period 3
Feb. 16-17
Minneapolis, Minn.
Men: sprint freestyle, 10k classic
Women: sprint freestyle, 5k classic
Feb. 19
American Birkebeiner
Cable, Wisc.
Men and women: sprint classic
Feb. 22
Hayward, Wisc.
Men: 50k freestyle Marathon mass-start
Women: 50k freestyle Marathon mass-start
Period 4
SuperTour Finals
Mar. 26 – April 2
Vernon, British Columbia, CAN
Men: freestyle TBA classic, TBA, sprint classic team relay, 50k freestyle mass-start
Women: TBA classic TBA, sprint classic team relay, 30k freestyle mass-start
###
About U.S. Ski & Snowboard
U.S. Ski & Snowboard is the Olympic National Governing Body (NGB) of ski and snowboard sports in the USA, based in Park City, Utah. Tracing its roots directly back to 1905, the organization represents nearly 200 elite skiers and snowboarders in 2019, competing in seven teams; alpine, cross country, freeski, freestyle, snowboard, nordic combined and ski jumping. In addition to the elite teams, U.S. Ski & Snowboard also provides leadership and direction for tens of thousands of young skiers and snowboarders across the USA, encouraging and supporting them in achieving excellence. By empowering national teams, clubs, coaches, parents, officials, volunteers and fans, U.S. Ski & Snowboard is committed to the progression of its sports, athlete success and the value of team. For more information, visit www.usskiandsnowboard.org
FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT:
Tom Horrocks
U.S. Cross Country Team Marketing Communications Manager
(802) 770-8985

Eastern Canadian Championships Attract Nearly 800 in Points Race Before STC

Julien Locke (l) celebrates his second-career NorAm win in the freestyle sprint at 2016 Eastern Canadian Championships on Friday at Nakkertok near Ottawa. (Photo: W. James MacLean)

Julien Locke (l) celebrates his second-career NorAm win in the freestyle sprint at 2016 Eastern Canadian Championships on Friday at Nakkertok near Ottawa. Sebastien Boehmler-Dandurand (behind) placed second, and Jesse Cockney (r) was third. (Photo: W. James MacLean)

By Gerry Furseth

Julien Locke of the Black Jack Ski Team overpowered a tactical freestyle sprint final to win the second NorAm of his career on Friday at the Nakkertok South trails near Ottawa on the opening day of Eastern Canadian Championships.

Despite a remarkably low snow year and freezing rain in the preceding week, the organizing committee and volunteers were able to host what is expected to be the largest International Ski Federation (FIS) points event ever held in North America. With 783 athletes registered, it is likely that this will top the current record holder, last year’s NorAm Easterns.

This is the last weekend for Ski Tour Canada (STC) selections (except for the NorAm overall leaders) and the pressure is on for the top athletes.

“Fast conditions at Nakkertok today,” Locke wrote in an email, “with sugary climbs and icy downhills.”

All six male finalists finished within 1.5 seconds of one another in the 1.5 k sprint. Locke won in 3:12.40 after qualifying fifth in 3:09.87. Sebastien Boehmler-Dandurand (Canmore) placed second, 0.22 seconds back. Jess Cockney, of the Alberta World Cup Academy (AWCA) and national senior development team, took third in his first non-European race this season, just nine-hundredths of a second behind Boehmler-Dandurand.

According to Locke, Knute Johnsgaard, another AWCA and U23+ development skier also coming off World Cups in Europe, “pushed the pace a bit on the first climb but then it all came back together before the second time up,” Locke wrote.

ILocke moved up in the field over the second half of the course and followed Patrick Stewart-Jones (AWCA) on the final descent, then carried his momentum across the line to take the win.

“There was a lot on the line with Canada Ski Tour selections and a broken pole at the top of the last climb ruined any chance I had of a podium finish,” Stewart-Jones wrote on Facebook on Friday after placing sixth, 1.45 seconds behind Locke.

Johnsgaard finished fourth, 0.99 seconds back from the win. “I feel I was the strongest in the field but was tripped up on the last hill and was sprawled out on my stomach as everyone skied by,” wrote Johnsgaard, the top qualifier in 3:07.43. He went on to win the first quarterfinal then place second to Locke in their semifinal.

Cockney improved as the day progressed after qualifying in 12th, 6.12 seconds off Johnsgaard’s qualifying pace.

“It’s been really frustrating to be this slow [in qualifying] compared to where I have been the last few years,” Cockney wrote in an email. “I found some better speed for the heats and skied the course well.”

He won both his quarterfinal and semifinal, ahead of the second-fastest qualifier Simon Lapointe (Quebec Ski Team) and Andy Shields (NDC Thunder Bay), who placed second respectively in each heat.

In the final, Shields ended up fifth, just 0.23 seconds ahead of Stewart-Jones.

The next stop for Locke is U23 World Championships in Romania at the end of this month.

“Today was my last sprint before departing for Europe (Feb. 12) and was great preparation for U23s,” Locke wrote. “It was great to have Knute, Andy and Jess back racing after their time on the World Cup.”

Results: Brackets | Qualifying


In the women’s 1.4 k freestyle sprint, Maya MacIsaac-Jones (Rocky Mountain Racers) won the qualifier in 3:19.18 before dominating each one of her heats, including an action-packed final, which she won in 3:17.29.

Jenn Jackson (NDC Thunder Bay) finished second, 3.36 seconds behind, after repeatedly trading places with Olivia Bouffard-Nesbitt (AWCA/NDST), who took third, 3.97 seconds back. Jackson took the lead at the start of the second lap.

“Maya and I came into the hill close together and were holding pace until the hill pitched up and we switched to offset and she started to pull ahead,” Jackson wrote in an email. “I was a bit frantic to get on her tail, missing a couple pole plants trying to accelerate, then face planted and completely lost contact and any chance of winning.”

Bouffard-Nesbitt was happy with her podium after qualifying fourth, 7.43 seconds behind MacIsaac-Jones.

“I was happy with how I raced tactically,” she wrote. “I was right where I wanted to be off the start and held my position in second until halfway through the course where Jenn Jackson went flying by.

“On the last uphill Jenn tripped herself up and I passed her to take second, but after the last downhill into the finish she flew by me again and she carried more speed than me going into the last 100m,”  Bouffard-Nesbitt added. “[Jackson] skied the final well today and she earned that second place.”

Dahria Beatty (AWCA/NDST) and Alannah Maclean (NDC Thunder Bay) were out of contention early, finishing fifth and sixth, respectively.

“I got tangled up 200m out of the start in the final with Alannah Maclean and we both fell,” Beatty wrote in an email. “By the time we were able to untangle ourselves we were 10+ seconds back from the other ladies.”

The second-fastest qualifier, 1.43 seconds behind MacIsaac-Jones, Beatty had won her quarterfinal and placed second to Jackson in their semifinal. In the final, Beatty was able to catch Cendrine Browne (CNEPH/NDST), but Browne edged her by 0.35 seconds for fourth, 7.4 seconds behind MacIsaac-Jones.

In an email, Browne described having low energy after qualifying in sixth, winning her quarterfinal then advancing in fourth as a lucky loser out of her semifinal, behind MacIsaac-Jones, Bouffard-Nesbitt and Maclean, respectively.

“My only tactic was to stay in contact with the group in the A final,” Browne wrote. “I didn’t manage to do that, but I’m still happy with my 4th place, which I wasn’t expecting with the day I was having.”

After the sprints, 434 younger racers born in 1998 or later opened their weekend with a prologue time trial.

 

Results: Brackets | Qualifier

Complete results

 

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Dupont, Locke Top Thunder Bay NorAm Sprints

The Open Women's Podium.  Jenn Jackson, Andrea Dupont, Sophie Carrier-Laforte, Ember Large.  Photo Credit: Martin Kaiser

The women’s sprint podium on Thursday at the Lappe Nordic NorAm in Thunder Bay, Ontario, with (from left to right) runner-up Jenn Jackson (NDC Thunder Bay), winner Andrea Dupont (RMR), Sophie Carrier-Laforte (CNEPH) in third, and Ember Large (RMR) in fourth. (Photo: Martin Kaiser)

By Gerry Furseth

The NorAm series resumed with the U23/Junior World Championships trials and first domestic races of 2016 at Lappe Nordic in Thunder Bay, Ontario, with freestyle sprints on Thursday. After a delay to wait for more comfortable temperatures, Andrea Dupont of Rocky Mountain Racers (RMR) won the 1.3-kilometre qualifier in 2:59.79 on her way to winning the A-final in 3:00.69.  Jenn Jackson (NDC Thunder Bay) finished second overall, 0.22 seconds back, and Sophie Carrier-Laforte (CNEPH) took third (+0.85).

I am glad the organizing committee had the forethought to delay the start of the qualifier,” Dupont wrote in an email. “Because of that the day went off without a hitch.”

According to Cross Country Canada, the marked Dupont’s 36th NorAm sprint.

“The highlight of my day was seeing first hand my team mate, Ember [Large], literally crush the climb in the quarter final,” Dupont wrote. “It made me do a double take and made me think about how I was skiing the climb. There are always things to learn:)” Large would go on to finish fourth after qualifying fifth.

Jackson, racing in her first season as a senior, earned her ticket to U23 World Championships in Romania in February with a tactical final.

Andrea went out fast so I tucked into second through the winding descent then at Pylons (the one big climb) was able to move up alongside [and] then ahead of her by midway up the climb,” she wrote.

Large moved to the front by the top of the climb.

“I moved in behind [Large] as the group bunched back up before we came back into the stadium,” Jackson explained. “I carried good speed into the finishing straight but Andrea is a great glider and took advantage of the fast finish to get ahead of me at the line.”

Dupont viewed the tactics differently, writing “There weren’t a ton of tactics at play as there was little draft on the long winding downhill and then the long climb could fit 3 skiers wide.”  

The only woman who qualified in the top seven not in the A-final was Alannah Maclean (NDC Thunder Bay), who won the B final after apparently falling in her semifinal.


Open Men's Podium.  Evan Palmer-Charrette, Patrick Stewart-Jones, Julien Locke, Angus Foster, Russell Kennedy.  Photo Credit: Martin Kaiser.

The men’s podium at the Lappe Nordic NorAm freestyle sprint in Thunder Bay, Ontario, with (from left to right) fourth-place finisher Evan Palmer-Charrette (NDC Thunder Bay), runner-up Patrick Stewart-Jones (AWCA), winner Julien Locke (Black Jack), Angus Foster (NDC Thunder Bay) in third, and Russell Kennedy in fifth. (Photo: Martin Kaiser)

The men raced on the same course, although the temperature rose from -17  to -11 degrees Celsius by the time the men reached the final.  Julien Locke (Black Jack) collected his first NorAm win in style, separating from the field to finish in 2:25.87, 2.94 seconds ahead of Patrick Stewart-Jones (AWCA).  Angus Foster (NDC TBay) was third, 3.79 seconds behind, for his first senior NorAm podium.

“The goal was to qualify for U23’s and finish at the top of the podium,” Locke wrote. “The shape is good right now, the skis were fast and everything came together quite nicely.”

Locke raced at U.S. nationals in Houghton, Michigan, earlier in the month as preparation, finishing third in the freestyle sprint.

In Thunder Bay, he explained he approached the heats tactically. 

“I kept the pace under control in the 1/4 and semi, both times moving up right at the end,” Locke wrote. “The final started off quite slowly so I bided my time and worked my way up through the corners on the descent. I hit the final climb at the front and pushed the pace from about halfway up.”  

Locke was one of several athletes who complimented the race organization. “While the course was not very difficult, Lappe did a great job making a fun course with a twisty working downhill before the final climb and finishing straight,” he wrote.

Foster won the qualifier by a whopping 4.93 seconds in 2:27.11. “By the cheers I was getting I knew I was having a good one,” Foster wrote, “and after that I just tried to keep things going through the heats.”

“Evan [Palmer-Charrette] started fast off the line [in the final] and had a little gap going into the downhill, with Julien and I following,” Foster explained. “[Locke] had a good move over the top and Patrick passed me to go with him. I managed to hang on and had a good finish to push it in for 3rd.”

In his first NorAm races since starting the season on the World Cup in Europe, Michael Somppi (NDC Thunder Bay) was feeling better than at U.S. nationals, but not entirely happy with his form.

“In retrospect I wish I had skied more tactically and saved more punch for the finish,” he wrote of his decision to race from the front in the quarterfinal and semifinal.  Somppi won the B-final with a more tactical approach to place seventh overall.

Kevin Sandau (AWCA) probably had the most unusual day to end up 20th.

“My binding snapped off my ski just as I was entering the finishing lanes in the qualifier,” Sandau explained. He broke a pole as well, so he “had to scooch leg with one pole/one ski like a jackrabbit past the finishing line. Somehow I still managed to qualify so a bit of a silver lining there.”

Marie Corriveau (CNEPH/NJST) and Joey Foster (CNEPH/NJST) won the junior finals to qualify for Junior World Championships in Romania.

Complete results | Heats | Qualification

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NorAm Period I Review: Results, Photos and Video

Period I of the Haywood NorAms is done and the first set of team selections are complete.

The NorAm opener was held in Canmore, Alberta, with three races: classic distance, classic sprint, and freestyle mass start. Sovereign Lake in Vernon, British Columbia, then hosted a freestyle sprint and 10/15-kilometer freestyle interval starts. After five races in nine days, Dahria Beatty (AWCA/NDST) dominated the women’s races with three victories to take the lead in both sprint and overall in the NorAm standings. Andrea Dupont (Rocky Mountain Racers) and Cendrine Browne (CNEPH/NDST) are tied for second on both lists.

On the men’s side, Kevin Sandau (AWCA) won all three distance races to lead the overall, followed by Knute Johnsgaard (AWCA/NDST) with four podiums, while Andy Shields (NDC Thunder Bay) completed the top three. Shields is leading the NorAm sprint standings with a win and a third place, followed by teammate Bob Thompson (NDC Thunder Bay) and Sebastien Boehmler-Dandurand (Canmore).

Complete standings at Cross Country Canada

Team Selections

In the eyes of the International Ski Federation (FIS), the NorAm series is Canada’s Continental Cup. Most team selections rely on the Canadian Points List (CPL), which is calculated using FIS formulas, or the NorAm standings.

For the U25 B-Tour, six athletes earned spots to race in Europe during Period II: Beatty, Browne, Katherine Stewart-Jones (NDC Thunder Bay), and Johnsgaard qualified as national-development team members with at least one podium finish. Shields and Maya Macisaac-Jones (RMR) qualified as the top overall finishers not on the NDST.  These athletes will join Emily Nishikawa and Jess Cockney, who are already in Europe.  The estimated trip cost to each athlete is $2,500 Canadian dollars.

Canada’s Youth Olympic Games team has already been announced.

The Ski Tour Canada selections are ongoing, using CCC’s outlined formula. Canada’s quota for Ski Tour Canada is 10 women and 12 men, including the NorAm overall leaders. Athletes can qualify by (in order of priority) achieving a World Cup podium, World Cup Red Group status, a top 30 ranking in Period III of the World Cup, or scoring World Cup points (in the top 30) this season.

Assuming this doesn’t fill all of Canada’s quota, the NorAm overall leaders are selected next, followed by the CPL leaders in distance and sprint. According to CCC, the cost for non-World Cup team members is 595 euro for flights, 125 Swiss Francs per day for accommodations, $30 Canadian dollars per race day for wax support, $35 Canadian dollars for shipping a ski bag to Canmore, travel to Ottawa and travel home from Canmore. On the day of publication, this is about $2,900 Canadian dollars or $2,100 US dollars.

U23 and Junior World Championships selections are made almost entirely from the selection trials, held in Thunder Bay on Jan. 15-18.

Sovereign Distance Race Video (on Pacing)

Photo Collections

Canmore, courtesy of W. James MacLean

Sovereign Lake sprint, distance 1 and distance 2 collections, courtesy of Marie-Ève Bilodeau-Corriveau (BUFF Canada) and XTS Photography

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Canadian Nationals in Thunder Bay: Day 2-4 Recap (Updated)

 

In what could be the last sprint of her career, Perianne Jones (AWCA/NST-Dev. B), 30, celebrates her classic-sprint victory on Wednesday at 2015 Canadian Ski Nationals at the Lappe Nordic Centre in Thunder Bay, Ontario. (Photo: CCC/Facebook)

In what could be the last sprint of her career, Perianne Jones (AWCA/NST-Dev. B), 30, celebrates her classic-sprint victory on Wednesday at 2015 Canadian Ski Nationals at the Lappe Nordic Centre in Thunder Bay, Ontario. (Photo: CCC/Facebook)

(Note: This post has been updated to include comments from Michael Somppi.)

On Sunday, the second day of racing at 2015 Canadian Ski Nationals in Thunder Bay, Ontario, local favorite Michael Somppi of the Alberta World Cup Academy (AWCA) and Canadian National Development Team, originally from Lappe Nordic, racked up his second-straight gold in the men’s 10-kilometer freestyle interval start on his home trails. He beat his Lappe Nordic team-sprint teammate Andy Shields by 34.3 seconds to do so with a winning time of 23:09.4.

“The 10km skate was my best performance of the year,” Somppi wrote in an email. “I wanted the win and I started the race like it was a sprint qualifier. The conditions were fast and I did my best to keep my speed high on the faster sections of the course.”

While Shields, of NDC Thunder Bay, posted the fifth-ranked time at 5 k, he closed hard over the second half of the race to finish second ahead of Kevin Sandau (AWCA/NST-Dev.) in third (+38.4).

“I didn’t let up much on my first 5km lap, then I dug super deep to hang on in the second 5km lap,” Somppi explained. ” I actually took a small fall cresting over the last big climb less than a km from the finish when I skied too close to the edge of the trail and my tip got caught in the snow bank.  It only cost me maybe 6 seconds, but it felt like an eternity trying to back up and get my ski  tip out of the snow when my legs were so lactated.

“It was tense moments waiting after I finished to see if anyone would beat my time since I was an early starter,” he added. “I was both elated and relieved when I heard I had won. It was an amazing weekend claiming the team sprint title with Andy, then winning my first National title.”

Dahria Beatty (AWCA/NST-U23) won the women’s 5 k freestyle by 3.7 seconds over Perianne Jones (AWCA/NST-Dev. B) with a top time of 13:23.4. Andrea Dupont, of Rocky Mountain Racers (RMR), placed third (+9.1)

  • Day 2: Results (scroll down for open women/men)

On Day 3, Tuesday in Thunder Bay, World Cup regulars Emily Nishikawa (AWCA/NST-Dev.) and Ivan Babikov (AWCA/NST-WCT) thrived on a blustery and -6 degree Celsius day to win the 10/15 k classic interval starts at Lappe Nordic.

Nishikawa started hard, building a 25-second lead over Jones on the first 5 k lap, but Jones cut the deficit to 2.3 seconds at the finish. Nishikawa won in 31:36.2, Jones took her second silver from 2015 nationals (following a second-place finish in the team sprint), and Cendrine Browne (CNEPH/NST-U23) was third (+1:04.7)

In the men’s 15 k, Babikov skied seven seconds faster than AWCA teammate Graeme Killick (NST-Dev. B) over the first 7.5 k and ended up 25.8 seconds ahead of him at the finish with a winning time of 38:31.2. Killick placed second, and Laval University’s Frédéric Touchette finished third (+37.1).

Wednesday brought colder temperatures, into the minus teens, under blue skies for the Day 4 classic sprints.

Jess Cockney (AWCA/NST-Dev. B) celebrates his classic-sprint win at 2015 Canadian Ski Nationals on Wednesday at Lappe Nordic Centre in Thunder Bay, Ontario. (Photo: CCC/Facebook)

Jess Cockney (AWCA/NST-Dev. B) celebrates his classic-sprint win at 2015 Canadian Ski Nationals on Wednesday at Lappe Nordic Centre in Thunder Bay, Ontario. (Photo: CCC/Facebook)

Jones and Jess Cockney (AWCA/NST-Dev. B) dominated their respective finals, with Jones winning the 1.5 k women’s sprint by 2.12 seconds over teammate Alysson Marshall (AWCA/NST-Dev.) and 4.25 seconds ahead of Dupont in third.

According to Cross Country Canada, it was likely the last sprint of Jones’ career. She narrowly edged Anita Kirvesniemi, of the College of St. Scholastica in Duluth, Minn., to win her semifinal by 0.02 seconds. Both advanced to the final, where Kirvesniemi placed fourth (+4.78). Olivia Bouffard-Nesbitt was fifth (+10.59), and Beatty crashed early to place sixth (+16.22).

In the men’s 1.6 k final, Cockney bested men’s runner-up Julien Locke (Black Jack) by 3.51 seconds and Norway’s Håkon Hjelstuen, of Michigan Tech University, by 3.66 seconds for his first individual win of the week.

Raphaël Couturier (CNEPH) placed fourth (+3.83), Bob Thompson (NDC Thunder Bay) finished fifth (+3.92), and Simon Lapointe (QC Ski Team) was sixth (+13.12).

Racing continues Thursday with the 1.2 k classic sprints for the juvenile and junior categories, followed by the 30/50 k freestyle mass starts on Saturday.

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Sandau, Nishikawa Top Both Distance Races at Eastern Canadian Champs (with Photos) 

Emily Nishikawa winning the women's 15 k classic mass start by nearly a minute and three seconds on Sunday at the NorAm Eastern Canadian Championships in Gatineau, Quebec. (Photo: Fred Webster)

Emily Nishikawa winning the women’s 15 k classic mass start by nearly a minute and three seconds on Sunday at the NorAm Eastern Canadian Championships in Gatineau, Quebec. (Photo: Fred Webster)

Note: This recap has been updated to include the correct time back and note Jenn Jackson’s crash in the women’s A-final.

Kevin Sandau and Emily Nishikawa racked up two more wins apiece this season at the NorAm Eastern Canadian Championships this past weekend in Gatineau, Quebec.

Sandau and Nishikawa, both Alberta World Cup Academy (AWCA) and Canadian National Development Team (NST-Dev.) skiers, swept the men’s and women’s distance races, respectively, on Saturday and Sunday at Nakkertok Nordic.

Michael Somppi (AWCA/NST-Dev.) on his way to winning the men's 1.5 k freestyle sprint on the first day of Eastern Canadian Championships on Jan. 30 in Gatineau, Quebec. (Photo: Fred Webster)

NorAm leader Michael Somppi (AWCA/NST-Dev.) on his way to winning the men’s 1.5 k freestyle sprint on the first day of Eastern Canadian Championships on Jan. 30 in Gatineau, Quebec. (Photo: Fred Webster)

On Friday, Jan. 30, Michael Somppi (AWCA/NST-Dev.) won the men’s 1.5-kilometer freestyle sprint and Heidi Widmer (AWCA/NST-Dev.) topped the women’s 1.4 k sprint in soft, deep snow after about 10 centimeters (4 inches) fell the night before.

Somppi went on to place second in Saturday’s 15 k freestyle and third in the 10 k classic mass start. He qualified for the sprint in sixth, 2.59 seconds behind the top men’s qualifier Sébastien Boehmler-Dandurand of the Pierre-Harvey Training Centre (CNEPH), the fastest in the fresh snow in 3:58.81.

“The sprint race was tough with soft conditions after a fresh snowfall on Thursday,” Somppi explained in an email. “The qualifier in particular was very soft on the big climb, which you do twice on the sprint course at Nakkertok. My legs felt a little heavy in the qualifier when I tried to really go and I was worried how I would feel in the heats.”

In the quarterfinals, Boehmler-Dandurand topped Colin Abbott (Yukon Elite Squad), and Somppi  edged Evan Palmer-Charrette (Thunder Bay NDC), and all four advanced to the semifinals with eight others.

There, Russell Kennedy (Canmore Nordic) topped Somppi by 0.18 seconds, and both advanced to the A-final, along with the second semifinal winner, Andy Shields (NDC), and Sandau as the runner-up. Lucky losers with fast-enough times from the first semifinal, Boehmler-Dandurand and Julien Locke (Black Jack) moved on as well.

Somppi explained he raced strategically in the final, getting out to a strong start and taking the lead.

“Leading was good to avoid crashes or broken poles as the course was a little difficult to pass on, especially in the softer snow,” he wrote. “However there was a headwind on parts of the course and it was easy to blow your legs out leading so I kept the pace controlled and everyone else seemed pretty content with that for the first half of the race.”

Shields attacked the second time up the big climb, he explained.

“I was able to stick right on him, get his draft on the downhill and slingshot by him into the finish,” Somppi added. “I felt strong in the finish, but it was certainly a tactical win for me.”

Somppi won by 0.5 seconds in 4:07.10. Shields, his former teammate at Lappe Nordic, was second, and Sandau took third (+2.2). Kennedy placed fourth (+4.0), Boehmler-Dandurand was fifth (+8.98), and Locke was sixth (+14.85).

“I was delighted to see how soft the tracks were when I arrived in the morning because I knew it played to my advantage,” Shields wrote in an email. “The snow was very broken up on the climb which meant we had to pace things pretty conservatively on the first climb. But on the second time up the hill, it was really fun to blast away from the pack if I could.

“Somppi managed to cover my move on the last climb and worked the draft coming downhill into the final straight,” he added. “I was pretty happy with my first NorAm podium in two years and our Lappe 1-2.”

In the women’s 1.4 k sprint, Widmer topped the qualifier by 8.73 seconds in 4:22.95. Andrea Dupont of Rocky Mountain Racers (RMR) qualified second, and Jennifer Jackson (NDC) posted the third-fastest time.

Widmer went on to win her quarterfinal and semifinal before rocking the A-final as well, beating out Dupont by 0.75 seconds in 4:07.11. Alannah Maclean (NDC Thunder Bay) placed third, 10.72 seconds back, Kendra Murray (Carleton University) was fourth (+11.28), Annika Hicks (Canmore Nordic) fifth (+17.66), and Jackson finished sixth (+2:21.78) after a crash.

“The steep climbs had a lot of deep, soft snow to navigate,” Widmer wrote in an email. “It wasn’t the prettiest skiing I’ve ever done, but it did the trick. … I skied from the front for my quarter and semi final. In the final, Jen Jackson had a brilliant start and I tucked in behind her and Andrea Dupont. On the first time up the steep hill I pulled behind and passed them. I just went from there and didn’t look back.”

On Saturday, Widmer placed second in the 10 k freestyle individual start, 4.7 seconds behind Nishikawa, who won it in 30:15.8. Widmer started 1:15 behind Nishikawa and explained she started getting splits off her around 7 k, at which point she heard she was 20 seconds down.

“It is always extra motivation to push harder,” Widmer wrote. “Maintaining speed through the transitions was my main goal for today. There was quite a bit of navigating to do with so many racers on course at 15 second intervals. My distance racing usually means a really fast fast lap and hanging on to that pace as long as possible. I tried a different strategy today and it worked well. I’m glad that I had a decent distance day today because I’ve been struggling this season.”

After skipping the sprint, Nishikawa was pleased with her weekend and explained she felt better after Sunday’s 10 k classic mass start win than on Saturday.

“I have been training hard for World Champs, and haven’t done much hard intensity prior to Saturday’s race so I felt a little flat.  But today I felt much better,” Nishikawa wrote after winning the mass start by more than a minute. “I am really excited to get over to Europe and get back racing on the World Cup.”

While she won Saturday’s 10 k skate by nearly five seconds, Nishikawa was almost a minute and a half faster than Dupont in third (+1:28). Brittany Webster (AWCA) placed fourth (+1:45.4), and Murray was fifth (+2:29).

2015 Eastern Canadian Championships podiums:

Friday, Jan. 30:
– Men’s 1.5 k skate sprint:
1. Somppi, 2. Shields, 3. Sandau
– Women’s 1.4 k skate sprint:
1. Widmer, 2. Dupont, 3. MacLean

Saturday, Jan. 31: 

– Men’s 15 k skate interval start:
1. Sandau, 2. Somppi, 3. Carlyle
– Women’s 10 k skate interval start:
1. Nishikawa, 2. Widmer, 3. Dupont

Sunday, Feb. 1:

– Men’s 15 k classic mass start:
1. Sandau, 2. Shields, 3. Somppi
– Women’s 10 k classic mass start:
1. Nishikawa, 2. Murray, 3. Webster

The next day, Nishikawa won in 31:29.1, 1:02.56 faster than Murray in second. Webster was third (+1:04.57) after skiing in the top four throughout the race. Hicks placed fourth (+1:04.68) and Dupont was fifth (+1:25.23).

In an email, Webster explained that her podium on Sunday was her first classic race of the year after recovering from a stress fracture in her leg.

“I have only JUST begun to classic ski again,” she wrote. “My first workout was last week, and this race was the first time I have classic skied without any pain!!! YES!

“The week boasted sub-par results for me, but honestly, I really felt like I ‘won’ my races out on the course,” Webster added. “Trailblazer coach Rick Dickey told me something I will never forget, and that is to make a race plan, and execute 100%. If you did that, you won your race. That’s what I did! My body felt great this weekend, I just need some more miles in my race legs. It will come, and I think it will come fast.”

Sandau won the Saturday’s 15 k skate by 15.2 seconds over Somppi (in 38:18.9) and Sunday’s 15 k classic mass start by 24.24 seconds ahead of Shields (in 41:20.67).

After starting near the back of the 125-man pack, Sandau led the interval start from start to finish.

“The trails are a bit flatter for my liking in Nakkertok but today I felt like I could push the flat sections and stay aggressive,” he wrote on Saturday. “A lot of the race just felt fast paced and high tempo for me, I could keep the RPM’s high and really hurt the body but still have good speed over the tops.”

He shared Saturday’s podium with two AWCA teammates, Somppi in second and Jack Carlyle, who was 1:05.5 back in third. Shields placed fourth (+1:22), and Kennedy was fifth (+1:34.6).

On Sunday, Sandau followed Abbott closely in second on the first of four laps, then led each loop thereafter, posting lap times that were consistently within four seconds of one another. With one lap to go, Shields as his closest challenger was 16.42 seconds behind.

“Because the race got shortened to a 15km from a 20km due to a he cold, I figured there wasn’t any time to play games and have some slow paced sections out there, so I tried to push all the climbing sections and keep the flats quick,” Sandau wrote on Sunday. “I skied to the front at about 2.5km and just kept the pressure on for the remainder to try to open the gaps up a bit. If it came to a sprint finish at the end I wasn’t going to fare well against the other guys in that.”

Shields finished second and explained he was “very happy” with his second podium of the long weekend.

“Things got tactical within the chase pack, but I made a very decisive move on the second last climb to claim second place,” Shields wrote. “Overall the weekend was exactly what I needed at this point in the year. I’m waiting to hear if I will be selected for a B-tour trip in the Baltic States which leaves Canada on Feb. 9th.”

Somppi was 32 seconds back in third for his third-straight podium of the weekend. Kennedy placed fourth (+35.53), and Bob Thompson (NDC) was another second back in fifth (+36.78).

“I was in a good position in second skiing behind Kevin on the first lap when unfortunately I took a crash and lost some positions and time,” Somppi explained.  “I worked hard to get back to the group but just didn’t have it in me today to stick with Kevin. Happy I was able to finish on the podium. It was a mental battle skiing with a tired body today. Great to share the podium with teammates and my roommate.”

Results: 

Friday: Men’s 1.5 k skate sprint | Women’s 1.4 k skate sprint

Saturday: Men’s 15 k skate | Women’s 10 k skate

Sunday: Men’s 15 k classic mass start | Women’s 10 k classic mass start

— Gerry Furseth contributed reporting

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Somppi Wins Back-to-Back at Western Canadian Championships; Nishikawa Takes 4th NorAm Win

Biathlon Canada's Scott Perras glances back at Michael Somppi (AWCA/NST-Dev.) during the men's 20 k freestyle mass start on Sunday at the Canmore Nordic Centre in Canmore, Alberta. (Photo: Angus Cockney)

Biathlon Canada’s Scott Perras glances back at Michael Somppi (AWCA/NST-Dev.) while leading the men’s 20 k freestyle mass start on Sunday at the Canmore Nordic Centre in Canmore, Alberta. (Photo: Angus Cockney)

By Evan Girard

CANMORE, Alberta — This past weekend’s NorAm Western Canadian Championships wrapped up the test run for when the Tour de Canada brings the World Cup to Canmore and Lake Louise, Alberta, next year.

Saturday’s 1.3 k Freestyle Sprint

Above-zero temperatures and sunny skies made for extremely fast conditions for Saturday’s sprint in Canmore. The course was a genuine sprint loop at 1.3-kilometers long and with virtually no flat sections.

Andy Shields (NDC Thunder Bay) posted the fastest qualifier time for the senior men. By the end of the day, Michael Somppi of the Alberta World Cup Academy (AWCA) and national development team pulled away from the field and take his place atop the podium, winning the A-final in 2:43.11.

“I made a split-second decision and attacked before anyone else behind us [Black Jack’s Julien Locke and I] caught up,” Somppi said. “Fortunately it was enough to get some separation and I was able to hang on in the finish stretch to win.”

The fight for second place was the excitement sprints are known for with the remaining five skiers within a second of one another. Locke was the skier with the best reach, finishing second, 1.68 seconds after Somppi.

“My strategy in the heats was to stay relaxed and try to make it to the A-final without spending all my energy to get there,” Somppi said.

Knute Johnsgaard (Yukon Elite Squad) took the final podium position finishing third, just five-hundredths of a second after Locke. Ian Murray (Rocky Mountain Racers) was the surprise of the final, finishing fourth, 2.32 seconds after Somppi, after qualifying in 24th, 15 seconds off the pace.

The top qualifier, Shields took fifth, one-hundredth of a second behind Murray. Sébastien Townsend (Alberta World Cup Academy) rounded out the final in sixth (+2.59).

A new rule change regarding false starts in sprint heats changed the woman’s race significantly on Saturday. The rule states that a false start merits a written warning, and any other false start that season results in an automatic disqualification.

The top women’s qualifier, two-time Olympian Perianne Jones (AWCA/NST-Dev. B) fell victim to this rule with a false start in her quarterfinal, which took her out of the competition. The women’s favorite of the day was now out of the running, this greatly changed the race dynamic.

“Things might have been faster off the start [with Jones in the final] but we had a tactical heat.” Andrea Dupont (RMR) said on Sunday. “I led off the start then tucked in behind. I thought about making an early move, but on this course its all about the finishing straight and I was able to attack and get in front.”

Dupont was quick to capitalize on the absence of Jones, cruising to a decisive A-final win in 3:07.03, 2.17 seconds ahead of Heidi Widmer (AWCA/NST-Dev.) and RMR teammate Olivia Bouffard-Nesbitt 3.39 seconds back in third.

“My legs felt tired in qualifying, I just couldn’t push.” Bouffard-Nesbitt said. “I was just pumped to feel a little better in the heats.”

Dahria Beatty (AWCA/NST U23) took fourth (+4.08), biathlete Sarah Beaudry (Biathlon Alberta Training Center) was fifth (+5.89) and Annika Hicks (Canmore Nordic) placed sixth (+12.63).

15/20 k Freestyle Mass Start

Sunday morning’s conditions were drastically different from the day before; a dusting of fresh snow and strong wind made the 20 k men’s race and 15 k women’s race a true test of endurance.

Sixty men took to the soft tracks first, and halfway through the race, three men broke away from the pack and would remain in front for the remaining 10 k.

Somppi and Kevin Sandau, both development-team members and AWCA teammates, were familiar leaders in the NorAm distance race. Biathlete Scott Perras (Biathlon Canada) was a new face in the usual mix.

“I really tried to break up the group on the uphills; I didn’t want it to come down to a sprint.” Perras said afterward. “I have always been a good climber and felt strong today”

Perras tried to force Somppi to lead into the final downhill but Somppi stuck behind and pushed for the victory in 55:56.50, 2.39 second ahead of Perras. Sandau grabbed the last podium spot in third, 8.9 seconds after Somppi.

“I would have liked to be a bit more aggressive on the final seven kilometers but didn’t have much left in the tank,” Sandau said, adding he might have picked the wrong skis for the day because he had to work very hard to stay with Somppi and Perras.

In fourth, David Palmer (Black Jack) finished his 20 k race nearly 52 seconds behind Somppi. Another Black Jack skier, Colin Ferrie finished fifth (+54.42) and Russell Kennedy (Canmore Nordic) rounded out the top six (+1:11.2).

Emily Nishikawa (AWCA/NST-Dev.) leading the women's 15 k freestyle mass start at Western Canadian Championships on Sunday in Canmore, Alberta. (Photo: Angus Cockney)

Emily Nishikawa (AWCA/NST-Dev.) leading Olivia Bouffard-Nesbitt (RMR) during the women’s 15 k freestyle mass start at Western Canadian Championships on Sunday in Canmore, Alberta. (Photo: Angus Cockney)

The women spread out early in the race, as Emily Nishikawa, who won Saturday’s B-final for seventh overall in the sprint, pushed the pace early in the first lap. Only Bouffard-Nesbitt attempted to go with her. Nishikawa remained in the lead the entire race, winning it by nearly a minute and a half in 46:30.89.

Bouffard-Nesbitt stuck in second for the rest of the race, holding off Beatty and Dupont to finish there, 1:27.5 behind Nishikawa.

“I’ve been really tired with all the racing lately; this is my sixth race in 11 but I felt strong today and was able to go out there and push,” Nishikawa said, adding of the tough conditions: “Racing is racing, you have out there and push.”

Nishikawa said she has used this weekend as preparation for next years Tour de Canada: “It’s a like our own mini-tour,” she said. “I was tired racing yesterday but I talked to my coach and we are using these races to prepare for next year.”

A very strong last lap brought Beatty into third place, three seconds behind Bouffard-Nesbitt and 1:30.9 behind Nishikawa. Dupont finished another 8.5 second later in fourth, Hicks was fifth (+2:42.9) and  Amanda Ammar (Canmore Nordic) took sixth (+2:56.6).

Results: Saturday’s sprints  (Brackets) | Sunday’s mass starts

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Nishikawa, Sandau Win First-Ever NorAm at Lake Louise

Day 1 of the NorAm Western Canadian Championships in Lake Louise, Alberta. (Photo: Martine Zilligen/CCC)

Day 1 of the three-day NorAm Western Canadian Championships from Jan. 15-18 in Lake Louise, Alberta. (Photo: Martine Zilligen/CCC)

By Gerry Furseth

The NorAm ventured to Lake Louise, Alberta, for the Western Canadian Championships Thursday through Sunday, a test event for the 2016 Tour du Canada World Cup stage.

Unlike most Continental Cup events, the course does not meet International Ski Federation (FIS) homologation standards.  The trails are much narrower than the 4-metre minimum and there is a distinct lack of climbing.  What Lake Louise does offer is scenery that makes more traditional venues like Canmore and Whistler Olympic Park look boring in comparison. The 2016 World Cup event in Lake Louise is still pending approval from Parks Canada.

Brian McKeever (Canadian Para-Nordic Team) double poling to second place in the 10 k classic at NorAm Western Canadian Championships on Thursday in Lake Louise, Alberta.  (Photo: Martine Zilligen/CCC)

Brian McKeever (Canadian Para-Nordic Team) double poling to second place in the 10 k classic at NorAm Western Canadian Championships on Thursday in Lake Louise, Alberta. (Photo: Martine Zilligen/CCC)

The men started off Thursday with a 10-kilometer classic interval start on a single loop. Kevin Sandau (Alberta World Cup Academy/NST-Dev.) edged out Brian McKeever (National Para-Nordic Ski Team) by three seconds for the victory in 26:25.7.  Michael Somppi (AWCA/NST-Dev.) was third, 23.1 seconds behind.

Sandau was happy to get a victory on a course that he didn’t think suited his strengths.

“I had both skate and classic skis waxed in case I decided to double pole it,” Sandau wrote in an email. “While a few guys did end up using skate skis, my coaches and I made the call to use kick wax 10 minutes before my start.”

“I’m glad I chose to do that as after only skiing the course once yesterday, the few climbs were a bit longer than I remembered.”

McKeever chose skate skis and seemed happy with his choice, tweeting, “Fun race in Lake Louise today. Double polling almost got me the W, but feel short in a close one to @KevinSandau. A good battle!”

Somppi used classic skis to continue his run of third-place finishes.

“I had planned to double pole,” he wrote. “However my classic skis were feeling really good when I tested them so I decided to classic on slippery skis with minimal drag.

“I think it wasn’t the best decision.  They were plenty fast but I wasn’t able to take advantage of being on classic skis on the climbs because my kick wasn’t good enough to really power up them.  If I did it again I would probably double pole the race.”

Bob Thompson (NDC Thunder Bay) led at the 4 k timing point on classic skis, before fading to seventh, 41 seconds back.

“I went a bit lighter on the grip and had a great first half to the race, but then had to use a bit more energy trying to climb than I thought I would have to and lost a bit of time.”

The decision between classic and skate skis for distance races has not usually been difficult in North America. On an unusual single-loop course, Sandau and Johnsgaard skied the second half together.

“[My] race plan was sort of just to floor it the whole way,” Sandau wrote. “I was lucky enough to catch my 30-second guy near the halfway point, and because he was double poling I was able to keep my speed up sitting in behind him for the flatter section.”

Knute Johnsgaard (Yukon Elite Squad), who started 30 seconds ahead of Sandau, had a different strategy.

“It was my first time double poling a distance course so I just made sure I left enough energy for the uphills later in the course,” Johnsgaard wrote.

Like McKeever, Johnsgaard would choose skate skis again, despite finishing sixth, 38 seconds back on skis that didn’t give him all the advantage he expected.

“The AWCA [team] nailed their skis today as Kevin’s classic were at least as fast as my skate,” he wrote.

Continuing with the unusual, the women’s race was the same length as the men’s.

Emily Nishikawa (AWCA/NST-Dev.) continued her strong season with another clear victory in the women’s 10 k classic in 30:14.1, clocking the fastest checkpoint times at 4 k and 9 k.

Perianne Jones (AWCA/NST-Dev. B) was second, 38.9 seconds behind, after recovering five seconds on Nishikawa in the final kilometer.

Dahria Beatty (AWCA/NST-U23) completed the podium, 1:21 back from Nishikawa.

None of the women responded to email for comment by press time.

Results: Men | Women

Photos

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Duntroon NorAm Mini-Tour Recap: Jones, Cockney, Nishikawa, and Sandau Tally Wins

Two weeks ago, the NorAm mini tour at Highlands Nordic in Duntroon, Ontario, was in jeopardy of not happening — with insufficient snow to run the event with nearly 450 racers expected, according to Cross Country Canada. Cold temperatures and plenty of snow came through, however, and three days of racing took place from Thursday, Jan. 8, to Sunday, Jan. 11.

Perianne Jones (AWCA/NST-Dev. B) cruising through the finish for the NorAm classic sprint A-final win on Jan. 10 at Highlands Nordic in Duntroon, Ontario. (Photo: CCC)

Perianne Jones (AWCA/NST-Dev. B) cruising through the finish for the NorAm classic sprint A-final win on Jan. 10 at Highlands Nordic in Duntroon, Ontario. (Photo: CCC)

Two-time Olympian Perianne Jones and Jesse Cockney, also of the Canadian National Development B-team and coming off World Cup races in December, notched classic-sprint victories on Saturday.

During Sunday’s 10/15-kilometer freestyle interval starts, two other Alberta World Cup Academy skiers, Emily Nishikawa and Kevin Sandau (both on the national development team) topped the podium.

Jones was the fastest women’s qualifier in the 1.5 k sprint on Saturday in 3:57.71, 4.85 seconds ahead of Andrea Dupont (Rocky Mountain Racers), who advanced to the quarterfinals in second.

Jones went on to win the senior women’s A-final by 10 seconds over Dupont, and Cendrine Browne, of the national U23 team and Pierre-Harvey Training Centre (CNEPH), placed third, after already qualifying for Canada’s U23 World Championships team.

“It’s always nice to come out on top. Duntroon is a special place for me,” Jones wrote in an email after Saturday’s race. “My whole family was here today including my grandparents and aunt and uncle. So it was fun to put things together for them. My first coach Heinz Neiderhauser passed away here 7 years ago, and it was the first time being back on these trails since then, so I like to think I may have had a little extra help out there.”

Browne was ecstatic about her best-ever sprint. In an email, she explained that she set a goal of making the A-final.

“I never had a good result like this one in sprints,” Browne wrote. “I always said I wasn’t a sprinter, but after today I will stop saying that! … Before the final, my coach told me: All you have to do in this heat is have fun. That was true. I was there, I was in the A final, I could go down, only up. And I did! I was behind Perianne Jones till the last 150 meters. Then Andrea Dupont passed me on the final stretch.

“It feels so good to be on top of my game and to feel so strong,” she added. “I am so happy. I was literally smiling and jumping after my race today.”

Bob Thompson of the Thunder Bay National Development Centre (NDC) won the 1.8 k men’s qualifier in 4:12.10, just 0.47 seconds over Raphaël Couturier (CNEPH), who prequalified for U23 World Championships. Thompson, Cockney, and Patrick Stewart-Jones (AWCA) each won their quarterfinals, but Nakkertok’s Sébastien Townsend edged both Thompson and Cockney, respectively, in a semifinal photo finish to put himself in position for selection to U23 Worlds.

Black Jack’s Julien Locke won the second semifinal by a second over Stewart-Jones. In the senior men’s A-final, Cockney attacked on the last climb to pull out a three-second win over Stewart-Jones, and Thompson finished third.

“The race today was sort of all over the place,” Cockney wrote in an email. “I stumbled a few times in the heats and fell in the qualifier but there were good feelings in between all the sloppy skiing.”

That night, Cockney and Stewart-Jones, the early season NorAm leader, were headed to Europe in advance of the World Cup sprints Jan. 17-18 in Otepää, Estonia.

“Physically I didn’t feel great and felt like I was still tired from the 30km,” Stewart-Jones wrote in an email, referencing Thursday’s 30 k skiathlon, in which he placed 12th. “I just tried to race smart and take advantage of every opportunity I could get and in the end I came out with the best possible result I could have on [Saturday] so I’m happy with that.

“The season has been going really well as far as sprinting goes,” he added. “I have yet to hit my stride in distance but I’m sure that will come. Now I’m getting the opportunity to race some World Cups so I’m pretty excited about that!”

Thompson, who achieved his second NorAm of the season and is currently third in the NorAm rankings, explained that Cockney “made a big move on the last climb I couldn’t match and Patrick got ahead on the last downhill and I couldn’t make up the gap before the line.

“I felt strong all day and was really happy to have won my first sprint qualifier,” he wrote. “I had big hopes for the A-final and am pleased to get another NorAm sprint podium. I’ve been working on my sprinting for the last few years and it feels great that it is paying off.”

National junior team member Maya McIssac-Jones (RMR) edged Sophie Carrier-Laforte (Skinouk/NST Junior Team) in the junior women’s 1.5 k qualifier by 1.14 seconds in 4:12.12. MacIsaac-Jones went on to win her quarterfinal and semifinal before claiming a sizable A-final victory over Katherine Stewart-Jones (Nakkertok/NST Junior Team), who qualified in third and won her quarterfinal and semifinal as well. With her classic-sprint win, McIssac-Jones qualified for Junior World Championships. Annah Hanthorn (YST/NST Junior Team) placed third.

Julian Smith (NDC Thunder Bay) was the fastest junior men’s 1.8 k qualifier by 5 seconds over teammate David Askwith in 4:20.23. Smith went on to top his quarterfinal and ultimately the final by 1.5 seconds over Ricardo Izquierdo-Bernier (CNEPH/NST Junior Team) in second. Joey Foster (Team Hardwood) placed third overall, after edging Smith in the semifinal to advance to the final.

The senior men's 15 k freestyle podium on Sunday, Jan. 11, at the NorAm in Duntroon, Ontario, including winner Kevin Sandau (second from r), Michael Somppi (r), Raphaël Couturier (third from l) in third, and Graeme Killick (second from l) in fourth. (Photo: CCC)

The senior men’s 15 k freestyle podium on Sunday, Jan. 11, at the NorAm in Duntroon, Ontario, including winner Kevin Sandau (second from r), runner-up Michael Somppi (r), Raphaël Couturier (third from l) in third, and Graeme Killick (second from l) in fourth, and Andy Shields (l) in fifth. (Photo: CCC)

Sandau, E.Nishikawa Top Distance Skate Races

On Sunday, Sandau posted the fastest splits throughout most of the men’s 15 k freestyle to win in 45:18.2, 24 seconds ahead of AWCA teammate Michael Somppi, also of the national-development team. The top U23 of the day, Couturier placed third (+42.2).

“I knew it was going to be a hard 15km but I was looking for some redemption from Thursday’s mishap,” Sandau wrote in an email on Sunday, referencing his eighth place in the 30 k skiathlon. “From early on I grabbed the lead and just tried to grab more time on the climbing sections where I felt particularly good.

“My classic skis were abysmally slow in the pursuit and right from the start I switched into survival mode,” he added. “After trying to close the gap down on Killick and taking lead for most of the first skate lap, I eventually gassed myself. … My season and fitness seems to be trending upwards. I feel the fitness was still there and Sunday sort of proved that to me. I missed the chance to race in [at the Jan. 24-25 World Cup in] Rybinsk, but right now focussing on Westerns and Easterns and just trying to race as much as possible.”

Somppi explained he gave Sunday’s race “everything I had and was hoping for a victory, but Kevin was too strong for me,” he wrote. “He had a really strong performance.  Overall my weekend was very solid, but unfortunately I needed better than solid to qualify for the Rybinsk World Cup races. I’m really happy with the consistency but I’m still searching for some next level performances. I don’t feel I’ve had any kind of big peak for any races yet this year.”

Thursday’s skiathlon winner, Graeme Killick (AWCA/NST-Dev. B) placed fourth, 54.6 seconds behind Sandau.

“I struggled with the slow conditions and the body was a little fatigued,” he explained in an email “I know the skate individual is something I need to continue to work on.

“I was really happy with the weekend,” he added. “The conditions leading into the pursuit were very slow with a pretty easy classic course so I was a little nervous about trying for a break. When I managed to get away on the last lap of the classic I felt quite strong and ended up putting time on the field for the next few laps.

“I had a rough start in the early World Cups but was able to have some better races finally in Davos. I was on the edge of making it into the points but it was encouraging to have some close races and get to know the world cup speed. I am looking forward to getting some mass start opportunities in the second half of the season.”

Another World Cup racer, Nishikawa won her second of three races in Duntroon — the women’s 10 k freestyle — by a commanding 1:03.2 minutes over Browne in second. Jones was just 0.5 seconds behind Browne in third.

“I started hard, and was able to hang on to that pace for the entire race,” Nishikawa explained. “My lap times were very consistent. I pushed myself really hard, and am happy with the result.

Overall, it was a pretty good weekend in Ontario. I am back in Canmore now, looking forward to racing here this weekend.”

In an email on Tuesday, Browne wrote that the 10 k went better than she expected.

“I was starting to get a little tired after doing two big races but I told myself that everybody was tired and that I didn’t have any excuse,” she wrote. “I just gave everything that I had left and it gave a very good result! I couldn’t believe it, another senior podium! … My three races were some of the best races I ever did. I still think this is all a dream! But then I remind myself  all the hard work I did in the past few years and then tell myself that I earned every medal I won. These medals are the proof of all my hard work. I am so so proud of myself for these accomplishments.”

Jones didn’t have many expectations for Sunday; she didn’t ski the course beforehand, but she called the 10 k “great training” and “really fun.”

Before heading back to Canmore early this week, she planned to visit her grandfather briefly in Midland, Ontario.

“I’ll race at Westerns, and do some good training, and then hopefully head over to Europe at the beginning of February,” Jones wrote. “Nothing has been decided quite yet, but I’d like to get some more racing in, both sprints and distance races.”

After making the U23 World Championships team, Olivia Bouffard-Nesbitt (RMR) placed fourth on Sunday, 1:29.2 behind Nishikawa.

“I set out on my last lap in third, in contention with Cendrine and Peri for second place,” she wrote. “Our splits were pretty tight, and then I totally lost it on the last lap. I think I ran out of gas on the climbing section of the last lap and managed to lose 20+ seconds on the girls. I’m really happy with how I raced the first three laps, and I know how I can improve on the last one, so a really positive day for me!”

Katherine Stewart-Jones rallied for her third-straight Junior World Championships bid, winning the junior women’s 5 k freestyle by 37.9 seconds in 18:05.6. Eliza-Jane Kitchen (BC Ski Team) placed second, and MacIsaac-Jones was third (+40.9).

Izquierdo-Bernier punched his ticket to return to World Juniors as well, winning the junior men’s 10 k freestyle by 34.1 seconds over fellow CNEPH and national-junior team member Zachary Cristofanilli in 31:20.1. Skibec’s Edouard Reed-Métayer placed third (+56.9).

Results: Saturday’s classic-sprint qualifier | final results | Sunday’s freestyle interval starts

— Gerry Furseth contributed reporting

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Killick, Emily Nishikawa Return to NorAm to Win Duntroon Skiathlons (Updated)

Michael Somppi racing to third in the men's NorAm 30 k skiathlon on Thursday in Duntroon, Ontario. (Photo: CCC)

Michael Somppi racing to third in the men’s NorAm 30 k skiathlon on Thursday in Duntroon, Ontario. (Photo: CCC)

Note: This recap has been updated to include quotes from senior men’s runner-up Scott Hill, women’s runner-up Cendrine Browne, and Knute Johnsgaard, who placed fourth.

The NorAm circuit resumed Thursday in Duntroon, Ontario, with the first of a three-day mini tour starting with the men’s 30-kilometer and women’s 15 k skiathlons. Graeme Killick of the Canadian National Development B-team and Emily Nishikawa (NST/Development), both of the Alberta World Cup Academy, picked up victories in their first NorAms of the winter since starting their seasons in Europe on the World Cup in November.

On a -12 degree Celsius day with strong winds, Killick won the eight-lap men’s 30 k by 47.5 seconds over Scott Hill (NDC Thunder Bay) in second and Michael Somppi (AWCA/NST-Dev.) in third (+51.3).

“This race was my best ever open men result so I was really happy with that,” Hill wrote in an email on Friday. “Being the first U23 yesterday qualified me for the U23 World Championships in Kazakhstan at the beginning of February which was my main goal.”

Knute Johnsgaard of the Yukon Elite Squad placed fourth (+1:02.4) and Colin Ferrie of Kimberley finished another 0.3 seconds back in fifth. Brian McKeever (Canadian Para-Nordic Team) placed sixth, David Palmer (Black Jack) was seventh, Kevin Sandau (AWCA/NST-Dev.) eighth, Evan Palmer-Charrette (NDC Thunder Bay) ninth, and Andy Shields (NDC Thunder Bay) 10th.

Killick and Somppi led a tight-knit pack of about 20 early on, and the front group remained about 15 strong on the second loop, according to a Cross Country Canada press release. Killick came through the transition 16 seconds ahead of Johnsgaard, McKeever and Somppi, followed closely by five others.

By the end of the first of four skating laps, Killick was up to 30 second ahead of the nine-man chase pack, which Sandau led. Killick pushed the margin to 35 seconds by 20, and the chase pack dwindled to five, including Johnsgaard, Ferrie, Hill, and Palmer.

Killick had a 50-second gap to start the final lap and won it in 1:31:24.47, while the remaining five battled for second and third. Hill emerged in second, about three seconds ahead of Somppi.

In an email on Thursday, Somppi described his race as “solid … I didn’t quite have the energy I was hoping to have but happy I at least skied well enough to be on the podium.

“The race was long in very slow snow conditions and strong winds,” he added. “Graeme and I tried to break up the race early in the classic and we were getting good gaps over the climbing section but everyone would be back on us after the long gradual downhill.

“On the last classic lap Graeme was able to finally get away and I just didn’t quite have it in me to stay with him,” Somppi explained. “Big ups to Scott on his strong skiing today. I did intervals with him last weekend and figured he would be strong today.”

Fourth through sixth were separated by 0.6 seconds, with Johnsgaard edging Ferrie and McKeever, putting U23’s Johnsgaard and Ferrie in the hunt for the championship team as well.

In an email, Johnsgaard explained he’s been feeling “under the weather .. so 4th place was a good result. I’ve had a string of bad luck in the earlier NorAm’s this year so my season has been a bit disappointing until now. I’m really confident in the training I’ve done though and there’ll be better things to come.”

He described the beginning of the skiathlon as fairly slow because of the high winds and snow blowing into the tracks.

“Nobody really wanted to lead,” Johnsgaard wrote. “Killick was obviously strong though and would charge up the big hill in classic every lap. There would be only 4 of us at the top of the hill every time but then everyone would be back when we’d go down into the windy fields. Killick had a bit of a lead going into the exchange and in the skate there were maybe a half dozen of us chasing him. That’s basically how it was to the finish.”
The senior women's NorAm 15 k skiathlon podium on Thursday in Duntroon, Ontario, including Emily Nishikawa in first, Cendrine Browne in second, Andrea Dupont in third, Olivia Bouffard-Nesbitt in fourth, and Dahria Beatty in fifth. (Photo: CCC)

The senior women’s NorAm 15 k skiathlon podium on Thursday in Duntroon, Ontario, including Emily Nishikawa in first, Cendrine Browne in second, Andrea Dupont in third, Olivia Bouffard-Nesbitt in fourth, and Dahria Beatty in fifth. (Photo: CCC)

Emily Nishikawa Wins by 20 Seconds

In the women’s four-lap 15 k, Nishikawa posted a 20-second win over Cendrine Browne of the Pierre-Harvey National Training Centre (CNEPH) and NST-U23 team. Andrea Dupont (Rocky Mountain Racers) placed third (+36.4) after trailing Nishikawa and Browne closely on the first lap with teammate Olivia Bouffard-Nesbitt (RMR), who ended up fourth (+54.6).

“I am happy to get the win today,” Nishikawa wrote in an email. “Our team had a tough day with skis, but I felt strong and skied well. The season has been going really well so far. I had some of my best races in Europe this fall.”

Nishikawa and Browne built a 20-second lead by the transition halfway through, while Bouffard-Nesbitt came through 15 seconds ahead of Dupont in pursuit.

The two frontrunners extended their lead to a minute over the second half of the race, with Nishikawa dropping Browne, who lost both contact lenses at the beginning of the skate leg. “I couldn’t see anything. That added a level of difficulty to my race!” Browne explained.

Meanwhile, Dupont closed on Bouffard-Nesbitt, who was in her fourth race of the season and third NorAm.

Nishikawa won comfortably in 50:37.88, and Browne put herself in position for selection to the U23 World Championships team in second. Dupont overtook Bouffard-Nesbitt for third, and Dahria Beatty (AWCA/NST-U23) finished fifth, 0.8 seconds out of fourth.

“My race today was fabulous,” Browne wrote. “I think it was one of my best races I ever did. I skied with a skier who went to the last Olympics and who just came back from the World cup circuit: Emily Nishikawa. I also crossed the finish line before two girls who were at the last Olympics: Heidi Widmer and Brittany Webster.
“My tactic was just to hang on and see what would happen,” she added. “So I stuck with Emily Nishikawa and that was a very good choice. We lost the rest of the pack early in the race so we managed to create a big gap between us and them. I stayed with Emily [until] the skate part. Then, I started to get tired so I lost her in an up hill, but caught back to her in a down hill and started the last skate loop with her. She pulled away from me in the same up hill but that time I couldn’t catch up to her. But still, I was very proud of the result.”

In an email, Dupont said she was satisfied with her outcome despite struggling on the classic leg “for some reason … which I would normally consider my strength,” she wrote.

“By the last leg I felt good and I was able to have a strong last lap, which is normally not my strength,” she added. “So, you have to learn from the bad aspects and be happy with the good ones.

“My season is going okay,” Dupont wrote. “I struggled with some health stuff in December, but I think that is resolved. So I am excited to be back to top form and hopefully this will lead to some good sprints.”

In terms of goals, she explained that it’s all about racing fast in Europe.

“The Canadian criteria has shifted with the goal of giving more opportunities to race in Europe and to see who is able to perform in Europe before choosing individuals for world champs,” Dupont wrote. “The key is they want to make sure they are taking the fastest closer to the events. So for me, hopefully based on January results, either this weekend or over the next few weekends, I can get a spot on one of the Euro trips. … Although there are more opportunities to race internationally, the athletes are footing the bill. This will definitely be an added challenge for many racers.”

Bouffard-Nesbitt, who was ecstatic to stay healthy for the last three weeks (after missing more than seven weeks of racing and training last winter to sickness) explained that her strategy on Thursday was to hang onto the leaders in the classic leg.

“This allowed me to come through the transition in third with a bit of a gap on some of the skiers behind me,” she wrote. “The downside of that tactic is that I tend to fade as the race progresses while some of the other girls get stronger. … In the last couple k of the course I was actually somehow oblivious to where Dahria was in relation to me, didn’t realize how close she was, and was almost caught by her by the finish! Something to take away and learn from today!”

“The second half of the skiathlon went well for me today,” Beatty explained. “I made a poor ski selection for the classic portion and couldn’t keep with the lead group which ruined my tactics and was quite disappointing but I was able to keep a good mental focus and once we exchanged to skate I was able to push hard and make up some good time.

“The last two races I have surprised myself with how strong my skate skiing has been feeling so I am looking forward to the 10km skate on Sunday,” she added. “The classic sprint [on Saturday] will be a lot of fun as well though as sprinting always is. For the first time I came into this trials weekend without a definite favourite race.”

Heidi Widmer (AWCA/NST-Dev.) was sixth, Annika Hicks of Canmore placed seventh, Alysson Marshall (AWCA/NST-Dev.) eighth, Brandy Stewart (Nakkertok) ninth, and Kendra Murray (Whitehorse) 10th.

Alexis Dumas (Skibec) won the 20 k junior men’s race in 1:11:16.22, ahead of Ricardo Izquierdo-Bernier (Fondeurs-Laurentides) in second and Zachary Cristofanilli (Orford) in third.

National junior team member Anne-Marie Comeau (CNEPH) was the 10 k junior women’s skiathlon champion in 41:27.48, over Katherine Stewart-Jones (Nakkertok) in second and Maya Macisaac-Jones (RMR) in third.

— Gerry Furseth contributed reporting

CCC’s NorAm report

Complete results: Men | Women | Junior men | Junior women

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Sovereign Lake NorAm – More Notes, Quotes, and Photos

Dramatic weather caused a lot of changes in the first two NorAm weekends.  The Whistler Olympic Park NorAm moved to Sovereign Lake, then moved to Friday/Saturday, then scrambled to find volunteers the weekend before Christmas.

FasterSkier’s photographer for the weekend, who is also a Level 2 race official, spent Saturday, Dec. 21, volunteering at the start line.  FasterSkier’s BC writer missed the Friday sprints and didn’t finish transcribing quotes before the holidays hit.

At long last, here are the rest of the quotes and photos.  The distance race was an freestyle individual start, 15 km (three laps) for the women and 30 km (six laps) for the men.  The course was held on the Upper World Cup 5k loop, considered relatively easy as World Cup courses go, but known to test pacing on individual starts.

Dahria Beatty (AWCA-NST/Whitehorse)

Distance:

It went really well.  This is the first time I have ever done a 15k individual [start], so it was something new.  And actually, [it was] a lot like my first distance race ever at Sovereign.  My coach said go out like it’s 10k.  I went out fast, and since it’s soft conditions, I really tried to think about technique and the advice I was given is ‘glide’. Maximize your glide. So I just thought of both power and glide, and got some good splits on the first lap. There was a lot of people starting in front of me that I could just track down. I just tried to kind of pick people off, it gave me something to focus on. My glasses got snow all over them, so I kind of had to go more by feel, and I’m more of a feel person than visual anyway. I focussed on weight shift on the hills and pushing over every crest because the downhills were quite slow. Yeah, my first good race of the season, so I’m happy with that.

Season so far:

It had a pretty slow start. Well, I had a really great first race back in October in the Frozen Thunder sprint, I was third behind Ida Sargent and Perianne Jones, so that was a really good start. After my November volume block, I had a bit of a slow start in Bozeman, I fell in the sprint qualifier and got all tangled up and missed qualification. The legs were a little lacking. The last week in Rossland, it still wasn’t great, but it was a bit better. Yesterday [in the sprint], was the first day I felt that my body was back. I just had really bad tactics in the final. I won my quarter, I won my semi, I was feeling good, and then unfortunately couldn’t put a final together and the girls just skied away from me. Today, I was kind of finally able to set things in the direction I want to go for the season.

Season goals:

My main goal is the U23 championship, this is my first year as U23, and my stretch goal is I’d like to have a top 12 finish. I would definitely like to be competitive, I had a top 15 at junior [worlds] last year and I’d kind of like to stay at that level and keep moving up. Then I’d like to stay in Europe and race the B-tour. If I’m really lucky, a race at world champs, but that would be a really big goal.

Training:

It was great this year, I think I finally, with age, my zone 1 and zone 3 training levels are kind of going up, moving up slowly.  It was great having Heidi [Widmer] and Alysson [Marshall], Brittany [Webster] and Emily [Nishikawa] as training partners this summer. I was able to train zone 1 with more of them.  Having them for intensity, they are some of the strongest girls in the country and we’re always pushing each other.  It’s great always to have that competition in training as well as at races.

Emily Nishikawa’s first World Cup points:

It was hugely inspiring, seeing that. Seeing her have a top 30 in a classic race, which I know is her strength. Coming from Whitehorse, coming from the same club and program as Emily. It’s usually my strength as well. Seeing that makes us all feel like if we had a good day, we could be there right with her. It’s great for Canadian skiing and it’s kind of bringing this next group up with her to join her over there in the next few years.

Dahria Beatty winning

Dahria Beatty leads Alysson Marshall into the finish to win the women’s 15 k freestyle interval start on Saturday. (Photo: Frances Weeks)

Brittany Webster (AWCA/Highland Trailblazers)

Distance:

It was pretty good, it was my first one back.  I actually started Bozeman, but I got a call that I have a stress fracture in my foot so I’ve been dealing with that for a while.  I only recently discovered that I could skate for about an hour without pain, that was about a week ago, so I’ve been on and off my skis every other day.

I would say it wasn’t too bad considering I haven’t really been skiing, so I’m happy.

Joining AWCA:

I’ve been on my own for about three years now, and I was saying the other night to Heidi [Widmer] that it is really nice to be on a team.  I originally come from a high school that was huge on team atmosphere, so I’ve missed that the last few years.

Season goals:

To be honest, the first goal is to heal the stress fracture in my foot.  After that, I want to get my shape back to the best that it can be.  If it takes time, then it takes time.  I willing to accept that, who knows when that will be, but I guarantee I will work hard.  I love racing so I will be out there as much as possible.

Brittany Webster in second

Brittany Webster finishing in second place (Photo: Frances Weeks)

Cendrine Browne (CNEPH-NST/Fondeurs Laurentides)

Distance:

Today was a really great race for me, I started fast and I tried to keep that pace.  Third place is really good for me, it’s only my second year in U23 so I am really happy.

Season so far:

I have a really great season so far, it has been a great start for me.  I am really happy.

Season goals:

I want to go to the U23 worlds in Kazakhstan and I would like to be part of the B-tour, the national team B-tour.

Heidi Widmer (AWCA/NST )

Distance:

My race was what I wanted out of today, coming back from a little bit of time off from a cold.  I just wanted to really grit today, that my goal that when the going got tough to just dig in a little deeper.

The conditions today [were] really made for the stronger skier.  To ski as strong and relaxed as possible.  My race was good and hard, as it should be.

Season so far:

The season is touch and go. I had a strong start in West Yellowstone, I missed two weekends of racing because I came down with a bit of a cold, and this is my first weekend back since then.  Two fourth place finishes, it’s part of the job, you have to know that with the highs come quite a few lows.  I am looking forward to having this trend upwards in January/February.  In the past those have been my lows, so I think this season will favour having my strongest racing in January and February.  Which is what I’m after.

Season goals:

This season my target events are world cup starts.  Specifically, there’s a sprint in Otepaa, Estonia, skate sprint in Rybinsk, Russia, and then as well as world championships in Falun.  There’s also a skate sprint in Lahti.  I have goals of getting my foot in the door in the skate sprint, that’s my strongest event.  The world cup is a bit [of a] daunting goal out there, but I feel confident that is definitely possible. 

Alysson Marshall (AWCA-NST/Larch Hills)

Distance:

It was a tough one out there for me today.  Long distance skate on soft snow is not my favourite, but I survived and kind of got better as the race went on.

Sprint:

Yesterday was was decent until the final. The final, yeah, I just left Olivia [Bouffard-Nesbitt] get away and we ended up having a pretty tactical, rough heat that it was tough to get around.  I had the energy but not the tactics to get around and when I finally did it was too much of a gap to bridge.

Season so far:

[It is going] pretty well, I had a few really good races, I was definitely happy with that.

Season Goals:

World champs is obviously a big one this year, but I am honestly wanting to race well in whatever opportunities come.  It’s just kind of race well wherever I am.

Changes from recent ‘poor’ seasons:

I had a bunch of thyroid stuff going on and we finally got me in the right range for racing.  [We] changed a few things in training this year, so I think it’s all just coming together again.

Training changes:

A little less strength, a little less volume, a little more intensity.  That was more what the focus was this year.

Kris Freeman (Freebird)

Freeman skipped the Friday sprint to focus on the distance race.

Distance:

It felt really good today, I went out with what I thought was a pretty quick pace and I was actually able to speed up and the body was just able to feel better and better as the race went on so I was really psyched.

Were you hearing splits out there?

No, I didn’t really know exactly what was going on. I think what it was, is that I was leading by about 30 seconds for most of the race so I think people just thought I knew that. I just wanted confirmation, but I never got it.

Did you have a race plan?

Well I knew Brian [Gregg] was going to go out hard and try to catch me because he was starting only 30 seconds behind me and he actually put 10 seconds on me in the first lap. But I had a little reserve and I think I skied really fast in the second lap and then I took off from there.

Right after the race you went out and started skiing at a fairly good tempo, is that related to diabetes? It’s a different cool down than most people do.

Today I needed to change my insulin pump right after the race. It was making a noise that tells me it wasn’t functioning properly so I had to switch it out. So I went straight to the cabin, changed my pump out and blood sugars were fine. And then I was good.

So it’s not a normal cool down?

I don’t have a normal cool down. I have to test my blood sugar and cool down accordingly.

Season so far:

I am really happy with the last two weeks. You know the first two weeks were okay I I’ve had what I feel are three really good races in a row now and I’m hoping the momentum just keeps going

Training changes:

[I am] more relaxed.  I’ve been using the first beat technology from Galanes Sport Systems and that has helped me monitor how tired I am and when to recover. As a training tool it has been really valuable. It tells me when to back off and when to go harder.

Kris Freeman winning

Kris Freeman winning, again (Photo: Frances Weeks)

Brian Gregg (Team Gregg/Madshus)

Freeman and Brian Gregg were traveling together for the NorAm races, and had both announced a goal to win the 30 km race.  Gregg’s parents live in Methow Valley, and took advantage of the much shorter drive when the venue changed.

Family:

It was really fun to have the whole family here today, or most of the family.  I’ve got, my brother and sister drove up late last night, with the [venue] change, they’re coming from Seattle, originally they were going to come up and watch the race in Whistler.  And my mom and dad, they were doing splits, and it worked out really well.

Kris [Freeman] and I planned on just doing the 30k, we’ve been travelling together for the NorAm circuit, so it’s kind of fun to go 1-2 today.

Distance:

I thought it was pretty good.  The first lap was pretty hot, started relatively quickly to see how things were feeling.  I’ve had a little bit of a chest, like the beggings of a cold.  I kind of wanted to see, what’s that like, if I pushed that.  Top of the course, I was fifteen [seconds] up on Kris, he only started 30 seconds ahead of me.  I kind of pushed it, to try to catch him, but it was a little hot.  He brought all that back and more on the second lap, and then settled in and just skied my own race.

Season so far:

It’s been a good start.  It’s been pretty consistent. I was hoping to have a win by now.  I’ve had two seconds in skate races.  It’s a good start.

Season goals:

My goal is to get to world champs, and I’d like to do the individual start 15 skate.  We’ll see how that goes.  I was pretty far back from Bird, he had a pretty good gap today so that’s not going to be good for points, for qualifying for that.  Next focus is to really do well at [US] Nationals, it will be important to [making] that team.

Being an Olympian:

That has been a huge goal of mine for such a long time, so that was fantastic to have that work out.  This year, things have been a little bit busier, all the things I put on the back burner, so I had a pretty busy spring, taking care of some obligations and some things I said I would do, but hadn’t quite done in the last four years.  Yeah, really encouraging and I am looking forward to the next Olympics in Pyongchang.

There was a really fun race here in Silver Star, the race that helped put me on the Olympic team and so it’s nice to be racing here in Silverstar [again].  Yeah, and a little bit nicer weather. [Last year, Gregg won on a -19 Celsius day that only the photographers liked.]

Gregg Family

The Gregg family. The twin in the center is Brian.

Michael Somppi (AWCA/Lappe)

Distance:

It was good I started out pretty strong trying to catch Graham Nishikawa in front of me and kind of planned once I caught him to work with him for a while. And then Kris freeman kind of upset that plan when he came through, [but] I knew I had to fight and stay with him as long as I could. After a while with [Freeman] he was one skating really strong so I had to regroup and fight out the last two laps on my own.

How long did you ski with Kris?

About a lap, a full lap, so 5k

Season so far:

My season is going alright; sprinting I’m having a little trouble with right now, I didn’t have the best luck yesterday and not having the snap yet really for sprinting but distance skiing is really coming around and it was a really good effort today.

Sprint:

Yeah, well with the new snow yesterday morning it made everyone ski in one track really cause that was the fast track, it got skied in and it was really tough to pass. If you went in the track that wasn’t skied in it was just no chance, it was way slower. I had a tough start in my quarter final heat, I was stuck in third and I couldn’t make a move so I tried to make a move in the finish and I accidently went into a un skied-in lane and I got kind of stuck in the finish. Yeah it was a tough day, you don’t usually see in a men’s final everyone coming in in one lane but that’s what it was yesterday, you had to have a good start and stay in front

Season goals:

I think I’m on track with my distance performance.  I’d like to have some better sprint performances to help my NorAm rankings. But distance is really where my goals are, performing on the internationals level, and I think my distance from is coming on well and I am looking forward to the races in January.

Michael Somppi

Michael Somppi was fastest Canadian in third. (Photo: Frances Weeks)

Knute Johnsgaard (Yukon Elite Squad)

How big is your squad this year?

It’s just Colin [Abbott] and I. And we are here with the Yukon Ski Team though, so there are six of us together at these last two NorAms.

Distance:

My race was nothing special, a little improvement on last weekend; I’ve had some really bad luck this week. I’ve broken poles, skied almost a full lap in Rossland with one pole, broke a basket, fell twice, and then  [Friday] I had a pretty disappointing incident where I got cut off really bad twice in the sprint heats. I was pretty sure I was going on but the TD didn’t call anything so that was pretty disappointing. So I’ve had some pretty bad luck. I’m just happy to finish the race with nothing else going wrong here.

Season so far:

My fitness is really good. I am really confident in the training that I did over the summer. I am looking forward to improving my results over the next few NorAm’s because I don’t think it was anywhere close to my potential

Season goals:

My main focus will be U23 and trying to improve on my results there from last year and hopefully make it onto a B tour. And maybe make it back in time for Canada Games.

Colin Abbott (Yukon Elite Squad)

On his retirement:

That was a myth, I’ve headed back to school full time at Carleton University and finishing up my degree program there in Environmental science by the end of this year. It seemed like the right time to do it. I’m not a U23 anymore so it was a good opportunity to continue skiing at a high level while getting a degree done so I’m pretty happy with it so far.

Distance:

It was tough, really tough. This was the first 30k individual start I’ve ever done and there was no part of it that was easy. I came from close to sea level a couple days ago so the altitude was really hard. I wasn’t really able to pick it up when the fast guys caught me so that meant it was a lot of lonely skiing out there.

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Beatty, Freeman Excel in 15/30 k at Sovereign Lake NorAm

Freeman leads Somppi and Nishikawa on the fourth lap. (Photo: Gerry Furseth)

U.S. Olympian Kris Freeman leads Michael Somppi (second from r) and Graham Nishikawa (second from l) on the fourth of five laps in the men’s NorAm 30 k freestyle interval start on Saturday at Sovereign Lake. (Photo: Gerry Furseth)

By Gerry Furseth and Evan Girard

VERNON, British Columbia — American Kris Freeman (Team Freebird) continued his domination of the NorAm distance races with a convincing victory in Saturday’s 30-kilometer freestyle interval start. The event was moved from Whistler Olympic Park in Callaghan Valley, British Columbia, after a major storm wiped out the already low amount of snow. As with the sprints on Friday at Sovereign Lake in Vernon, B.C., significant snowfall and a good breeze kept things challenging.

After a cautious first lap where Freeman clocked the second-fastest lap time, he turned on the power and was fastest over each of the remaining five laps to finish with the eventual-winning time of 1:19:53.6.

“I had kept a little in reserve,” Freeman told FasterSkier. “And I think I skied really fast on the second lap and then I just took off from there.”

Brian Gregg (Team Gregg/Madshus) skied the fastest time on the first lap in an attempt to catch Freeman, who started 30 seconds ahead of him. Gregg got within 15 seconds, but Freeman was able to reduce the deficit to 9 seconds by the end of the opening lap. Gregg had two slower laps recovering from his hard start yet was second-fastest on the final three laps to grab second, 1 minute, 31 seconds behind Freeman. Gregg’s family came to the race and his parents provided splits.

Michael Somppi (AWCA/NST D-team) and Brian McKeever (Canadian Para-Nordic Team) both used the aggressive-start tactic, with Somppi able to hold on for third place, 2:01 after Freeman, while McKeever faded to take fourth (+3:26.2).

Graham Nishikawa (Para-Nordic Team) used the race as training for guiding McKeever in international para-nordic World Cups and World Championships, collected fifth place (+3:32.8) only 6 seconds behind McKeever.


Dahria Beatty winning

Dahria Beatty leads Alysson Marshall, in the NorAm leader’s bib, into the finish to win the women’s NorAm 15 k freestyle interval start on Saturday. (Photo: Frances Weeks)

The wind dropped somewhat for the women’s individual start 15 k, but another 90 minutes of accumulated snowfall kept the pace slower than usual.

Dahria Beatty (AWCA/U23 team) took advantage of the conditions to win in 48:50.1. In her first-career 15 k interval start, she listened to her coach’s advice for the soft conditions.

“My coach said go out like it’s 10k,” the 20-year-old Beatty said. “I really focussed on weight shift on the hills and pushing over every crest.”

Brittany Webster (AWCA) captured second, 22.6 seconds behind, in her first race since being sidelined by a stress fracture in her foot.

Cendrine Browne (CNEPH/U23) broke up the World Cup Academy domination in third place, 38.6 seconds behind Beatty. Heidi Widmer (AWCA/NST D-team) took fourth (+45.2), while Alysson Marshall (AWCA/NST D-team), an admitted classic-sprint specialist, grabbed the final prize money position, 1:06 after Beatty.

Complete results

Stay tuned for an updated report with more quotes and photographs.

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Nesbitt, Stewart-Jones Top First NorAm Sprint of Season in Sovereign (Updated)

Olivia Bouffard-Nesbitt (Rocky Mountain Racers) looks back as she secures her NorAm classic-sprint victory over Alysson Marshall (AWCA/NST D-team) in Friday's 1.2 k A-final at Sovereign Lake in Vernon, B.C. (Photo: CCC)

Olivia Bouffard-Nesbitt (Rocky Mountain Racers) looks back as she secures her NorAm classic-sprint victory over Alysson Marshall (AWCA/NST D-team) in Friday’s 1.2 k A-final at Sovereign Lake in Vernon, B.C. (Photo: CCC)

(This article has been updated to include comments from Olivia Bouffard-Nesbitt and Alysson Marshall.) 

By Evan Girard

The first sprint race of the 2014/2015 NorAm series took place Friday at Sovereign Lake with fresh, sticky snow making for challenging race conditions. The race was a classic format consisting of one 1.2-kilometer loop for the women and 1.4 k for the men on the twisty sprint loop in Vernon, British Columbia.

Olivia Bouffard-Nesbitt (Rocky Mountain Racers) picked up her first NorAm of the season in the women’s 1.2 k sprint. Sickness kept her from racing the NorAm opener in Rossland, B.C., last week but could not keep her off the podium in Vernon. Bouffard-Nesbitt and Alysson Marshall (AWCA/NST D-team) pulled away from the rest of the field in the A-final, though it was Bouffard-Nesbitt, who lead the entire final heat, first reached the finish first, 1.5 seconds ahead of Marshall, to claim the victory.

When asked about racing such a strong field, Bouffard-Nesbitt wrote in an email, “I always feel like the under dog. Even if there are expectations, I like to think I’m the under dog, it helps a lot with nerves. I’m racing among a group of super strong and talented girls who I respect a lot, so I try to learn from them during the races, but I also try not to be intimated. I didn’t leave anything out there today, I just went for it!”

After back-to-back wins at last week’s NorAm opener, Marshall was a clear threat again on Friday. Marshall said she didn’t feel great in qualifying, but after the hard effort she felt strong in the heats. Still posting the second-fastest qualifying time and winning both her quarterfinal and semifinal heats, Marshall was decisive in making it to the final. She narrowly missed out on the top spot, but took her NorAm medal in three races.

“I felt confident going into the final but was slow off the start and made some tactical errors and struggled to get around people with only two tracks skied in on the course,” Marshall explained in an email. “I finally got around and made some time up in the final section but wasn’t able to catch Olivia who had a fantastic day!”

The women’s top qualifier pace was set by Andrea Dupont (RMR), who advanced to the final as the first lucky loser (after Bouffard-Nesbitt edged her for second in their semifinal). Once in the final, she raced to third, seven seconds behind her teammate.

Heidi Widmer (AWCA/NST D-team) finished fourth, Alannah Maclean (NDC Thunder Bay) was fifth, and Dahria Beatty (AWCA/U23) took sixth.

The NorAm men's 1.4 k sprint podium on Friday at Sovereign Lake: with winner Patrick Stewart-Jones (third from l), Bob Thompson in second (l), Raphaël Couturier (third from r) in third, Andy Sheilds (second from r) in fourth, Graham Nishikawa in fifth, and Scott Hill (not shown) in sixth. Thunder Bay took three of the top five in the men's race, and had Alannah Maclean in fifth in the women's race. (Photo: Alberta World Cup Academy/Twitter)

The men’s NorAm 1.4 k sprint podium on Friday at Sovereign Lake: with winner Patrick Stewart-Jones (third from l), Bob Thompson in second (l), Raphaël Couturier (third from r) in third, Andy Sheilds (second from r) in fourth, Graham Nishikawa in fifth, and Scott Hill (not shown) in sixth. Thunder Bay took three of the top five in the men’s race and had Alannah Maclean in fifth in the women’s final. (Photo: Alberta World Cup Academy/Twitter)

Patrick Stewart-Jones (AWCA) dominated the men’s 1.4 k sprint, after winning the qualifier and going undefeated in each of his heats, including the final. Having won the SuperTour classic sprint two weeks ago in Bozeman, Mont., Friday looked like a repeat performance.

“My plan for the day was to try and put everything into the qualifier,” Stewart-Jones explained in an email. “I’ve been working a lot on my prologues this year because it’s been a weakness in the past and it’s great to see it start to pay off.”

Even though Stewart-Jones felt strong he didn’t feel confident in the heats. Difficult conditions made passing difficult and risky, and his strategy to stay in either first or second during the heats paid off with wining performance.

Second across the line in the men’s final, 1.01 seconds back, was Bob Thompson (NDC Thunder Bay) with a close battle for the second step on the podium. He edged Raphaël Couturier (CNEPH/U23) by 0.75 seconds for second, after advancing to the final as a lucky loser.

Couturier posted the third-fastest qualifying time and decisive wins in his quarterfinal and semifinal on his way to third overall, nine-hundredths of a second ahead of Andy Shields (NDC Thunder Bay) in fourth. Graham Nishikawa (Para-Nordic Team) placed fifth and Scott Hill (NDC Thunder Bay) was sixth.

ResultsBracket results

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Freeman, Marshall Complete Rossland NorAm Classic Sweep (Updated)

Kris Freeman after winning Saturday's 11 k classic individual start at the NorAm opener in Rossland, B.C. (Photo: Fresh Cafe & apres)

Kris Freeman after winning Saturday’s 11 k classic individual start at the NorAm opener in Rossland, B.C. (Photo: Fresh Cafe & apres/Facebook)

By Evan Girard

(Note: This article has been updated to include comments from Kris Freeman, Alysson Marshall and Annah Hanthorn.)

Day 2 of classic distance racing took place Sunday at the NorAm opener in Rossland, British Columbia. This time, however, the men raced a 15-kilometer individual start and the women raced 11 k.

Race organizers opted to not groom the course for Sunday, which ultimately paid off, resulting in hard-packed snow conditions for skiers but slightly icy corners on the largest downhill of the 5 k loop.

Saturday’s 11 k classic winner Kris Freeman (Team Freebird) maintained his top position, winning by nearly 30 seconds in 31:56.5. The former U.S. Ski Team member hoped his momentum would help him in the 15 k, and he remained the lone podium returner after Saturday’s individual start.

Both days I paced the races very well,” Freeman wrote in an email. “All of my laps were within 2 seconds of each other. My plan both days was simple and did not change. Go out fast and don’t fade.”

He explained the 5 k course used Sunday was hillier than Saturday’s 3.75 k course.

“The tracks were so firm on Sunday that I chose to go with bomber kick to get up some of the glare ice tracks,” Freeman added.

After a strong final lap, Matt Gelso of the Sun Valley Ski Education Foundation (SVSEF) Gold Team took second, 29.7 seconds back. He clocked the second-fastest last lap, 0.7 seconds behind Freeman.

“I went out too hard yesterday and faded at the end pretty bad, but today I felt good at the end and finished strong,” Gelso wrote in an email after placing sixth on Saturday. “Thanks to the Sun Valley wax techs, I had very good skis both days so I had the opportunities to be in there both days.”

The third American on the podium, Benjamin Lustgarten, Gelso’s teammate, was 51 seconds back in third.

Michael Somppi (Alberta World Cup Academy) was the top Canadian in fourth, 1 second off the podium. Saturday’s runner-up Welly Ramsey, of the Maine Winter Sports Center, rounded out the top five (+1:06).

After the men’s race, the women’s 11 k classic was modified from two laps of the same 5 k course to three laps of 3.75 k loop.

***

Alysson Marshall (AWCA) atop the podium on Saturday after winning the first of two classic distance races at the NorAm opener in Rossland, B.C. She went on to win Sunday's 11 k classic as well. (Photo: Fresh Cafe & apres/Facebook)

Alysson Marshall (second from r) atop the podium on Saturday after winning the first of two classic distance races at the NorAm opener in Rossland, B.C. She went on to win Sunday’s 11 k classic as well. (Photo: Fresh Cafe & apres/Facebook)

Alysson Marshall (AWCA) continued to dominate after early season SuperTour success with her second classic-distance victory in two days.

“My goal for December has been to get as much solid racing in as I can and to treat each race as an opportunity to go hard and push myself,” Marshall wrote in an email after Saturday’s win.

“Sunday felt like a repeat of Saturday: same course but one extra lap!” she wrote after Sunday’s race. “I went into both days wanting to push myself and maximize my speed on all the different sections. I was worried that I had started too hard and my middle and last laps were slower but luckily I was able to hang on to the finish.”

She topped Sunday’s 11 k classic in 32 minutes even, 21.5 seconds ahead of Annah Hanthorn in second.

A junior skier with the Yukon Territory Ski Team, Hanthorn proved with her second-straight podium of the weekend that despite being younger than her competition, she came prepared to ski with the top women. She claimed second of 42 women and posted the fastest lap of the field.

“I definitely was surprised by Saturday, so going into Sunday I was a little more nervous,” Hanthorn wrote. “But my coach Alain [Masson] is so good… he reminds me to have fun! I so appreciate that.”

The icy corners made her most uneasy, especially after Hanthorn crashed with a teammate while warming up.

“I was definitly thinking about skiing relaxed and to not kill myself on the first lap but to be more in control of my tempo in the race,” she wrote. “I hoped to race similar to the previous race. I asked Alain if there was anything different about a 3 loop to a 2 loop and he said ‘well you can’t slow down,’ meaning I can’t ski slower because it’s longer.”

The sole American female to land on the NorAm podium in third (+33.4), Jennie Bender, of the Bridger Ski Foundation, was pleased to be racing distance well again. Like many racers, Bender was pleasantly surprised with the conditions on Sunday.

“It’s a fast course, so you gotta drop the hammer all around,” she wrote in an email. “I decided not to pace, and just go from the start and see how I held up.”

Regardless of a small crash, Bender maintained third.

Results: Men | Women

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Freeman, Marshall Win Black Jack NorAm Distance Opener

By Gerry Furseth

(Note: This article has been updated to include comments from women’s runner-up Andrea Dupont.)

After several days of warm rain, the first NorAm of the 2014/2015 season was held under blue skies and below-freezing conditions on Saturday at Black Jack Ski Club in Rossland, British Columbia.

U.S. Olympian Kris Freeman (Team Freebird) won the men’s 11-kilometer classic individual start in 26:45.9, with almost perfectly even lap times, the last and slowest lap only two seconds behind the first and fastest.

“I caught a stomach virus in West Yellowstone which put me on my heels a bit,” Freeman wrote in an email. “My strength has been coming back and I felt great today.”

Another American, Welly Ramsey of the Maine Winter Sports Center took second place, 49.4 seconds behind Freeman, after moving up from sixth at the end of the second lap.

“I didn’t have much of a plan,” Ramsey wrote in an email, “but today was my [24th] birthday and I certainly think being a year older and smarter helped.”

The top Canadian, Michael Somppi of the Alberta World Cup Academy (AWCA) grabbed the final podium spot, 1.6 seconds out of second and 7 seconds ahead of Ben Lustgarten of the Sun Valley Ski Education Foundation (SVSEF) Gold Team.

“I had a slow start to the season in the Super Tour races the past two weekends so it felt good to have better energy today and perform more at the level I know I’m capable of,” Somppi wrote.

Brian Gregg (Team Gregg/Madshus) rounded out the top-five U.S. domination in fifth, 15 seconds off the podium after crashing on the third lap.

***

In the women’s 7.5 k classic, Alysson Marshall (AWCA) continued her strong start to the season (after a SuperTour sprint victory in West Yellowstone and fifth-place finish at the second SuperTour stop in Bozeman, Mont.) with a distance win in 21:02.7.

“My plan was to push hard from the start and try to maintain that speed,” she wrote after the race. Her second lap was slightly slower, but still second fastest.

Like most of the athletes, Marshall was impressed with the course.

“Conditions today were much better than I expected,” she wrote. “The organizers and groomers did an amazing job making the race happen with tough conditions and the tracks today were great!”

Andrea Dupont (Rocky Mountain Racers) held on for second, 12.2 seconds behind Marshall after a slower second lap.

“My season has gotten off to a slow start,” Dupont explained in an email. “I have struggled a bit with health in the early season so this is only my second race start of the season. I was pretty happy with today. I am typically more of a sprinter, so for me to have a strong distance result early in the year is a good sign.
“I still feel like I am building back into training so I am hoping my top end fitness will return,” she added. “My goals over the next few races is to continue to build in my distance results and to have a strong sprint. “

Junior racer Annah Hanthorn (Yukon Territory Ski Team) used the fastest final lap to capture third, 13.8 seconds after Marshall and 1.6 seconds behind Dupont.

In her first year as a senior, Dahria Beatty (AWCA) took fourth ahead of junior Maya MacIsaac-Jones (RMR).

Jennie Bender of the Bridger Ski Foundation was the top U.S. woman in seventh, 20.5 seconds behind Marshall.

“I felt pretty solid, and am feeling pumped yet riled that I was only two seconds from 4th place,” she wrote in an email.

Complete results: Men | Women

Video

Photos

Despite the challenges of working at an alternate venue without electrical power, you can follow Sunday’s race live on the internet.

 

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NorAm Opens in Rossland at Biathlon Trails, with Changed Format

Last week, a low-snow situation in Rossland, British Columbia, led race organizers to relocate the first NorAm of the season up to the biathlon trailhead about 7 kilometers north of and about 250 meters higher than the Black Jack trails.

The races start this Saturday with what was originally scheduled to be freestyle sprints. Organizers announced Friday that the races would be 5/10 k classic interval starts for open categories.

With the rain last night and over the last few days the course preparation has been very challenging.  We are unable to get the sprint course to be safe and so have cancelled the Sprint race Saturday,” an update on the Black Jack Ski Club website read.

“We have also taken out one of the big downhills on the distance courses in the interest of skier safety.  Crews have been shoveling all morning and we feel that with the course change, we are able to race both Saturday and Sunday.

“Saturday will be a shorter distance race 10/5km for Open categories.  Distances will remain the same for other categories,” the website stated. “Sunday’s schedule remains unchanged at this time.”

As scheduled, Sunday is more of the same: with 10/15 k classic interval starts.

Saturday’s races start at 11 a.m. PST.

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Whistler NorAm Moved to Sovereign Lake Dec. 19-20

(Press release)

No Snow at Whistler Olympic Park Forces NorAm Move to Sovereign Lake in Vernon and an Adjustment to the Competition Schedule

Consistently warm wet weather with little relief in the forecast has forced the organizers of the Haywood NorAm, scheduled for Whistler Olympic Park just before Christmas, to relocate the races to Sovereign Lake Nordic in Vernon.  The NorAm and World Jr/U23 Trials will now be held on the Sovereign Lake trails on Friday, December 19 (Buff Sprints, Free Technique) and Saturday, December 20 (Interval Start Free Technique).

“We delayed this decision for as long as possible but the weather just wasn’t getting any cooler,” stated a disappointed Sherryl Yeager, Chief of Competition on Tuesday.  “Racers have to change accommodation and travel arrangements, so a decision had to be made.  Many of my committee have plans to support the new OC at Sovereign and we are grateful to Sharon Clarke and her crew for taking on the race on such short notice,” continued Yeager.  Adjustments to race fees will be provided to athletes who are registered for the Whistler event but unable to travel to Vernon.

The new competition schedule now includes:

Thursday, December 18 – PM – Team Captains Meetings (tbc)

Friday, December 19 – Buff Sprints (free technique)

Saturday, December 20 – Interval start (free technique)

The races have been rescheduled for Friday and Saturday in order to permit teams with previous flight arrangements out of Vancouver on Sunday to make their travel connections.  “With the holiday season upon us and few options for alternate travel arrangements we decided to go with the unusual move to change the race days,” commented Dave Dyer, CCC Race Director.

More detailed information on the new site and an updated Race Package will be available at http://www.sovereignlake.com/.

The 11th edition of the Haywood NorAm Race Series is scheduled to get underway this weekend, Dec 13 & 14, 2014 in Rossland, BC.

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Sargent, Blackhorse-von Jess Sprint to Qualifier Victory at Frozen Thunder

Ida Sargent (USST/Craftsbury Green Racing Project) skied to a convincing win in Friday morning’s classic sprint qualifier at Frozen Thunder in Canmore, Alberta. The American finished with time of 4:18.34 on the 1.6 k course besting the field by over two seconds. Perianne Jones (Canada) finished second with a time of 4:20.92. She was followed by Dahria Beatty (Alberta World Cup Academy) who crossed the line with a time of 4:27.07. 

Dakota Blackhorse-von Jess (Bend Endurance Academy) topped the men’s field with a time of 3:43.32. Jessie Cockney (Canada/Alberta World Cup Academy) was roughly two seconds behind Blackhorse-von Jess and clocked a time of 3:45:43. Swiss skier Mathias Inniger rounded out the top three at 3:47.51.

The sprint finals of Frozen thunder will start at 9:45 MST.

Qualifier results

Frozen Thunder Classic Sprint Qualifier Top Ten 

Female results: 

1. Ida Sargent 4:18.34

2. Perianne Jones 4:20.92

3. Darhia Beatty 4:27.07

4. Heidi Widmer 4:27.30

5. Alysson Marshall 4:27.45

6. Emily Nishikawa 4:29.28

7. Liz Stephen 4:29.36

8.  Jessie Diggins 4:29.49

9. Erika Flowers 4:30.28

10. Annie Pokorny 4:31.73

Male results:

1. Dakota Blackhorse-von Jess 3:43.32

2. Jesse Cockney 3:45.43

3. Mathias Inniger 3:47.51

4. Kris Freeman 3:48.86

5. Andy Newell 3:49.40

6. Devon Kershaw 3:50.02

7. Len Valjas 3:50.87

8. Ben Saxton 3:52.03

9. Bob Thompson 3:52.09

10. Michael Somppi 3:52.64

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Jamie Coatsworth Elected New CCC President

Cross Country Canada’s Board of Directors and provincial/territorial chairs elected Jamie Coatsworth president this weekend at the organization’s Annual General Meeting (AGM) in Canmore, Alberta.

In an email, Chris Dornan, who manages high-performance public relations for Cross Country Canada (CCC), confirmed the outcome of the election for the volunteer position, which is a two-year term.

Coatsworth was previously a board member and is currently the president of Nordic Insurance Consultants, Inc., in Toronto, according to his Linkedin profile.  He was nominated and elected in the same weekend following the recent resignation of previous president Richard Lemoine.

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Kennedy, Macisaac-Jones Win Sunday’s NorAm Mass Starts

Russell Kennedy of the Rocky Mountain Racers won the the men’s 20 k freestyle mass start in the final day of the fourth day of the Haywood NorAm Westerns in Prince George, B.C. Kennedy won with at time of 53:23.47, barely edging out second place finisher Ezekiel Williams of Nakkertok Nordique by 0.67 seconds.  David Palmer of Black Jack Nordic was third, 4.16 behind Kennedy.

In the women’s 15 k, Maya Macisaac-Jones of the Rocky Mountain Racers ended her week on a high note after winning with at time of  50:12.95. Unlike the tight men’s race, the top spot was handily won by Mascisaac-Jones with over 1:21.74 separating her and her next competitor, Jacqui Benson of Caledonia Nordic. Ember Large of Edmonton Nordic was third, 3:08.55 back from Macisaac-Jones.

Results: Men’s 20 k mass start | Women’s 15 k mass start  

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