VERNON, B.C. –The combined Noram/SuperTour last weekend at Sovereign Lake, British Columbia, produced some exciting skiing and some challenging photography conditions with almost non-stop snowfall both days. Some of our best photos that didn’t make the two-day race recap are included below, but first, a little background and feedback:
The NorAm circuit has not been a fully North American circuit since 2006. This year, Canada and the U.S. planned two combined NorAm/SuperTour events in Bozeman, Montana, and Sovereign Lake, B.C. With the relocation of the Bozeman event to West Yellowstone, Sovereign Lake became the only combined event of the season.
While many athletes dream of a return to the glory days of this series, the 2006/2007 birth of the SuperTour coincided with a second Continental Cup quota spot, allowing each country to send one “COC” leader of each gender. Effectively, each country became a “continent” in the eyes of the International Ski Federation (FIS). Combining the two series could reduce North America to one COC position per gender.
FasterSkier asked athletes and organization leaders what they thought of the 2016 combination of the early season NorAm and SuperTour:
“I think what became very clear last year [in] the discussion with the coaches and the Canadian people, instead of trying to send to our athletes East to West, maybe it’s better to send them North to South. In terms of saving cost, obviously, and more competition between better athletes, [this] is better to improve the quality of our athletes in Canada and the US.” — Robert Lazzaroni, U.S. Ski & Snowboard Association (USSA) nordic domestic program director
“If you back to the NorAm races, when we used to do them with the U.S., when Devon Kershaw was racing Justin Wadsworth … ‘x’ number of years later, the one guy is coaching the other guy. Crossing over generations is very important.” — Thomas Holland, Cross Country Canada (CCC) high performance director
“The altitude at West Yellowstone is too high to use it as a selection race for the Canadian team.” — Holland, on applying the FIS limits to selection races.
“I think it’s an incredible opportunity. I think we as North Americans don’t get the opportunity to have such a competitive field and I think coming together and making each other better is super important and think there’s just so much more to learn.” — Julia Kern, Stratton Mountain School (SMS) Elite
“I really like it. This has been a very well-run, well-organized event. It’s really fun to race against other athletes, more people than the usual SuperTour field. It would be awesome to have more.” — Kaitlyn Miller, Craftsbury Green Racing Project (CGRP)
“I can’t express to you how much I love it and how happy I am. I’ve been telling everyone I run into that I absolutely love it, and I would wish that the entire circuit could be combined the way it is today. I know that logistically, that’s not totally possible, but it’s so good for us, it adds such a depth of field. It’s just so much more fun, I love it. Yeah, I love it.” — Olivia Bouffard-Nesbitt, Alberta World Cup Academy (AWCA)
“I think it’s awesome. I think we should do more of these, for sure. Rossland and Silver Star and Canmore, it’s always beautiful snow and great grooming, and a really hilly, challenging course. I think all three of those have some really good terrain; it’s always fun to come up here and get a little bit different than our usual back courses back home.” — Jennie Bender, Bridger Ski Foundation (BSF)
“It’s been great. I’ve been amazed at the professionalism here. They’ve put on an amazing event. For us in North America, we have it unique that we are separate from Europe and it’s cool to be able to challenge each other against the Canadians, and I think we should have more of it.” — Heather Mooney, CGRP
“It’s just great. In sport and in skiing, I always believe that you need to race against the best. That’s why we’ll be racing in Europe in February. It’s a super good idea, and I don’t know why we didn’t do it earlier. They’re so close to us, so we need to race against them, and they need to race against us.” — Antoine Briand, Pierre-Harvey National Training Centre (CNEPH)
“I think it’s incredible. Last year at our athlete meeting at Canadian Nationals, I made that point very strongly a couple times. I raced U.S. nationals in Houghton last year. That was an awesome event, I thought. Having a higher level of competition benefits everyone and then when we get to racing deeper fields in Europe, we’re not caught quite as offguard.” — Evan Palmer-Charrette, Thunder Bay National Team Development Centre (NTDC)
“I think it’s awesome. I think it’s better for both the Americans and the Canadians. Everybody that I’ve talked to likes it. It raises the level of competition, we’re still competing for SuperTour points and NorAm points respectively. It just makes a deeper, faster field.” — Reese Hanneman, Alaska Pacific University (APU)
“It raised the level of competition a lot, brings everyone’s game up, I think it’s good for North American skiing.” — Cole Morgan, Sun Valley Ski Education Foundation (SVSEF)
“It’s the best, we need to do this all the time. It’s so good to mix it up and see all of our best racers. I think if you look back generations, guys like [Chris] Jeffries and [George] Grey and Kersh [Devon Kershaw], like [Ivan] Babikov, they cut their teeth on a combined circuit. I think their success on the world cup is definitely in part due to that. I hope we get a couple more opportunities to keep racing each other.” — Ben Saxton, SMS Elite (Note: Jeffries is the AWCA head coach, Grey placed eighth in the skiathlon at the 2010 Vancouver Olympics, Kershaw was second overall in the 2012 World Cup, and Babikov is one the Canadian World Cup coaches.)
“I think it’s a great idea. It’s really nice to get some deeper fields, to get the Americans and Canadians racing together. It wasn’t so fun to watch the podium here, to watch it filled up with Americans, but when all the Canadians go down in the semi, that was happens. We’ll be down at US Nationals for sure.” — Angus Foster, NTDC Thunder Bay
“It’s really good, because the level is really high with the U.S. Good for us to see other skiers, and other fast guys.” — Alexis Dumas, CNEPH, the second Canadian and 15th overall in the men’s 15 k
“I love it! I think it’s like the best thing for our sport. The camaraderie, and also you learn so much from your peers, it’s super important and so valuable.” — Chelsea Holmes, APU
“I love it, I hope we do more. I think it’s awesome for everyone involved.” — Katharine Ogden, SMS Elite
“I love it. It’s fun having a bigger field and a new venue. I love Silver Star, this place is hard to beat.” — Erika Flowers, SMS Elite