With fewer than two weeks remaining until the Ski Tour Canada visits Gatineau, Montreal, Quebec City, and Canmore from March 1-12, we spent some time breaking down the provisional North American picks and estimated costs for Canadian nation’s group skiers at the season-ending World Cups.
Len Valjas double poled past Italian sprint star Federico Pellegrino at the end of the first men’s classic sprint quarterfinal to earn a spot in the semifinals and ultimately lead the North American men in 10th in the fourth stage of the Tour de Ski in Oberstdorf, Germany.
The NorAm youth movement continued into the second weekend of the Canadian domestic series on Saturday at the Sovereign Lake Nordic Centre, with three new athletes reaching the podium in the freestyle sprints.
The NorAm opened with three races in four days in Canmore, Alberta, with two distance races on short loops — one of which the men double poled. Kevin Sandau won the first two men’s races, and another Alberta World Cup Academy skier, Dahria Beatty won the women’s skate mass start and classic sprint on days 2 and 3.
After several years on Canada’s Senior Development Team, Alysson Marshall, 27, has decided to put down her skis and pursue her next dream: a career in family medicine.
“Cancel” is a word no race organizer wants to entertain, and the local committees behind the first two NorAms in Rossland and Whistler, British Columbia, did everything they could to make sure their races happened — even if they had to be moved a six-hour drive inland to Sovereign Lake.
Of the 18 North Americans that competed in Sunday’s 1.3-kilometer freestyle sprints at the Toblach World Cup, nine made the rounds. Many of them chatted with FasterSkier about the day and final race before the Olympics.
Emily Nishikawa and Erik Bjornsen picked up their first victories of the season in the Black Jack NorAm freestyle sprints on Saturday in Rossland, B.C., coming out on top of heats that were jam-packed with tactics, crashes and tight finishes.
Another cold one at Sovereign Lake kept the organizers and athletes scrambling in temperatures around -20 degrees Celsius, but the end result was an exciting first NorAm of the season, with two Americans taking the top spots in the men’s 15 k and Heidi Widmer winning the 10 k skate.
Sovereign Lake boasted “mid-winter conditions” on Saturday, so naturally, FasterSkier contributor Gerry Furseth had to investigate. What he found was 75-plus kilometres of groomed trails and a reason for switching from his rock to his race skis.
Sovereign Lake Nordic Center’s annual Summer Ski camp from May 10-19 attracted the usual collection of hard-core skiers, a mixture of teams and day trippers who need a last fix of snow before the inevitable arrival of summer. With the city of Vernon already in full-summer mode in the valley below, Sovereign’s weeklong camp is the last chance for set tracks in the region.
On the last day of racing at 2013 Canadian Nationals, American Torin Koos and his Swiss girlfriend Bettina Gruber were the big winners in the 50- and 30-kilometer freestyle mass starts, respectively. Brent McMurtry ended his ski career on a high note, and Zina Kocher took the Canadian women’s title.
Friday was an official training day for the cross-country athletes, but the Sea to Sky Nordic Festival isn’t all about cross country. While biathlon wrapped up earlier, Ski Jumping and Nordic Combined had their first competitions on Friday. Fast and Female hosted an event, and there were lectures on coaching female athletes.
Canadian World Cup Team members Dasha Gaiazova and Lenny Valjas demonstrated how classic sprinting is done at Canadian Nationals on Thursday, winning their respective qualifiers and later commanding the finals to achieve national titles.
Fresh off a flight from Sweden, Dasha Gaiazova entered her first race of Canadian Nationals firing all cylinders, beating Japan’s Chisa Obayasi by nearly 1 1/2 minutes in Tuesday’s 10 k classic interval start in Whistler, B.C. Brent McMurtry captured his first national title in the men’s 15 k, 23 seconds ahead of Norway’s Rune Ødegärd.
Heidi Widmer, 22, rolled to her first individual gold and second title in as many days of racing at Canadian Nationals, while the 33-year-old IPC World Cup extraordinaire Brian McKeever won his first Canadian championship just days after flying from Sochi, Russia. Caitlin Gregg and Eliska Hajkova of the U.S. took first and second overall in the 5 k freestyle, and Canadians swept the men’s 10 k podium.
Jess Cockney stayed upright despite a tangle in the finishing straight to notch his second-straight team sprint title with Brent McMurtry at Canadian Nationals on Saturday, and Marlis Kromm and Heidi Widmer skied to a nearly 10-second victory in the women’s race.
Audrey Vaillancourt (Quebec) completed her set of three titles at 2013 Canadian Biathlon Championships with a photo finish victory over Megan Heinicke (Biathlon BC) on Tuesday.
Audrey Vaillancourt (Quebec) made it two for two, winning the pursuit at Canadian Biathlon Championships at Whistler Olympic Park on Sunday. Vaillancourt started first after her Saturday sprint victory and finished first despite missing four shots (1+0+1+2) in 31:43.4 for the fastest ski time of the day.
Canada’s domestic series, the NorAms, wrapped up in Grand Prairie, Alberta, this weekend, where Graeme Killick of the Alberta World Cup Academy and Nakkertokk racer Alana Thomas won grueling but exciting three-day minitours. We caught up with podium finishers for their comments on the race.