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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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