Lappe Nordic Ski Centre is in immaculate shape heading into the Canadian National Championships which start Sunday March 5 with the junior, open and university relay races. Lappe Nordic Centre has a great history of hosting big races, including the Canadian Senior Nationals in 1997 and the Canadian Junior Championships in 2000. It is argued by many to have the best trails and grooming in Canada, and the conditions over the past couple of days certainly strengthen that argument. Both skating and classic tracks are in great shape and the weather over the next few days looks conducive to fun skiing. Evening low temperatures have been close to —20, with beautiful sunshine warming things up to about —5 during the warmest part of the day. There is lots of snow that is new enough to be clean while still being old enough to be fast. Everyone has their fingers crossed for more of the same in the coming days.
Following the relays are individual classic races on Tuesday (short distance), mass start skate races on Wednesday (medium distance), skate sprints on Friday and mass start classic races on Sunday (long distance). The sprint races should be very exciting featuring what is rumoured to be a fairly innovative course in a downtown location.
The club relay event has been gathering steam since its beginning in 2001 and has acquired a certain amount of prestige. In fact, some athletes at this year’s nationals are only in attendance because they are members of relay teams and have been coaxed out of retirement by team mates with a thirst for a precious medal in the club relay ( for an example, check out the Soo Finnish team of Adam Kates, Brady Dunne and Chad Yurich. Only Adam has raced at the National level in the past two or three years!) It is reminiscent of what is often found in Scandinavia, where being a member of the club relay team is goal worthy of serious training and sacrifice.
We’ll keep you as up to date as possible with race reports following every race in Thunder Bay.
Karl Saidla races for XC Ottawa ( www.xcottawa.ca )