The Myriam Bedard biathlon center in Valcartier, Québec, is hosting three races of the Haywood Noram series, which started this weekend. The races are also serving as qualification for Canada’s U23/Junior World Championships teams, so the field is stacked with top Canadian skiers. In addition there are a number of US skiers present, primarily New Englanders who chose not to make the trip to Anchorage.
The series started with a continuous pursuit. The men went first on Saturday with a 30 kilometer race that featured six 2.5 km laps each of classic and skate. The loops were tough: a single lap had only one long, steep climb followed by a winding descent that dropped into the stadium. Canadian National Team and Pierre Harvey Development Center (CNEPH) skiers took seven of the top eight spots. Brent McMurtry (CNEPH/NST) edged out Graham Nishikawa (CNEPH) by 1.5 seconds for the win. National Team member Drew Goldsack rounded out the podium while Frédéric Touchette (CNEPH) was fourth and the top U23 finisher. Russell Currier, a biathlete from the Maine Winter Sports Center, was the top American finisher in 22nd place.
Canadian National Team skier and current Continental Cup leader Dasha Gaiazova dominated the 15 km women’s pursuit with a 43.2 second win over Madeleine Williams (Alberta World Cup Academy). Brittany Webster (NST) finished third as the top U23. Colby College racer Lucy Garrec was the top American in 19th.
Sunday’s race was a skate sprint on a 1.2 km loop. Temperatures were over freezing and snow flurries continued throughout the day, making for interesting conditions on the course. The uphills stayed somewhat soft but the flats and downhills were glazed and very fast. Julien Nury (Skibec/CNEPH) won the men’s qualification in a time of only 1:39.04. Dasha Gaiazova took the women’s qualification with a time of 1:54:04, nearly 5 seconds over the second place qualifier.
The qualification results were up quickly and the heats got started promptly at noon. The results were divided into separate U23/senior heats and junior heats; even juniors who finished in the top-30 overall were taken out. This changed the heat line-ups considerably in the women’s field – 14 juniors would have qualified for open heats – and caused some confusion as very few coaches seemed to be aware of the protocol, but it was done to allow juniors competing for spots on the world’s team to race head to head in the heats.
In the men’s heats, top qualifier Julien Nury got knocked out in the quarterfinals but CNEPH/NST skiers continued to lead the field taking the top 5 spots in the A final. Second place qualifier Philip Widmer (CNEPH/NST) took the win with Stephan Kuhn (NST) in second and Lenny Väljas (CNEPH) in third. University of Vermont skier Alex Howe was the top American in 13th, narrowly missing a spot in the semis.
Dasha Gaiazova continued her dominating ways and won the women’s A final in convincing fashion over Perianne Jones (NST). Andrea Dupont (Rocky Mountain Racers) rounded out the podium. Chelsea Little (Craftsbury Green Racing Project) was the top American woman finishing the heats in 18th.
Top qualifier Joey Burton (Alberta World Cup Academy) held his position through the junior heats. First-year J1 Raphaël Couturier (Skibec/Equipe de Québec) finished second ahead of Andrew Stewart-Jones (Nakkertuk/Equipe de Québec). Alberta World Cup Academy skiers Heidi Widmer and Marlis Kromm took the top two spots for junior women, finishing ahead of Rebecca Reid (Black Jack Nordic).
The last race, an individual start classic, will be held on Tuesday. With warm temperatures and light snow predicted, the waxing could be tricky.