Quotes, observations and photos from the Frozen Thunder freestyle distance, classic sprint and skate-sprint qualifier last week in Canmore, Alberta. “Frozen Thunder is definitely a huge asset to western North America. There is no doubt that it helps get you into ski shape long before the season starts,” local skier Russell Kennedy states.
Just six-hundredths of a second shy of Len Valjas’s winning qualifying time on Thursday, Bob Thompson of NDC Thunder Bay is headed to Europe for his first international World Cup experience. He clinched the final men’s spot on Canada’s World Cup Period 1 team.
Update: Early Thursday, Cross Country Canada (CCC) announced that Jess Cockney has been selected for World Cup Period 1, referencing both his Olympic history and last season’s World Cup top-10 result.
In Canada’s first unofficial on-snow race of the 2016/2017 season — which most of nearly 100 competitors viewed as a training effort — American Chelsea Holmes and Canadian national-team biathlete Brendan Green topped their respective fields in the 7.5 and 12 k freestyle races.
Biathlon, like many Olympic sports, began as a way for soldiers to practice their skills. Neal Bascomb’s new book, “The Winter Fortress”, tells the tale of Norwegian and British soldiers on skis fighting the German occupation of Norway in World War II. This book is interesting, historically accurate, scientifically accurate, and well written. Even without the skiing, this would be my favorite nonfiction book of the year.
FasterSkier previewed the Quebec City courses before the third and fourth stages of the Ski Tour Canada, another freestyle sprint and 10/15 k freestyle pursuits, with the sprint on Friday on the historic Plains of Abraham. We also joined a press conference with the local celebrity, Alex Harvey. “A top-five placement overall is still realistic,” he said of the entire Tour. “Even the podium is not out of reach.”
At Western Canadian Championships last weekend in Prince George, B.C., Dahria Beatty and Kevin Sandau locked up the overall NorAm lead before the Ski Tour Canada while others duked it out during three days of races Feb. 19-21.
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.