Drew Goldsack of the Canadian National B-Team continued his winning ways in the first NorAm competition of the 2011 season, besting National Team teammate Frederic Touchette in the final of the classic sprint in Vernon, British Columbia on Saturday.
Goldsack won both SuperTour sprints over Thanksgiving in West Yellowstone. Those races were qualifier-only, but Goldsack had no problem with the heats today, leading a Canadian sweep of the podium.
Graham Nishikawa finished third, just ahead of the only American in the A-Final, Mike Sinnott (SVSEF).
48 men started the race meaning that over half the field advanced to the heats.
Goldsack posted the fastest qualifying time, less than a second ahead of Nishikawa, before winning each of his heats on the way to victory.
“I was mostly trying to stay out of trouble,” Goldsack said of his heat strategy. “There are some pretty tight corners, and I wanted to stay out of harms way.”
He was pushed some on the early climbs, but was able to move into the driver’s seat every round.
Goldsack described the course, new this year, as “pretty tough,” noting that the combination of three solid, if not huge, climbs, combined with the three-and-a-half minute length made for a challenging loop.
In the finals, he made sure to enter the last big sweeping corner in front, and proceeded to ski away in the final flat.
“I was feeling really strong double poling today,” said Goldsack, “so I was confident coming into the finishing stretch that I would be able to hold everyone off.”
Despite temperatures well below freezing, the skiing was not as straightforward as may have been expected.
According to Goldsack, the tracks were somewhat powdery and the snow a bit “strange.”
“You had to ski with a little soft striding to make sure your were getting grip,” he explained.
The event marked the first North American Continental Cup with sprint heats of the season.
“It is definitely nice to do some heats and get that experience under my belt this year,” Goldsack said.
He also pointed out, with a laugh, that it took a day of sprint heats to make him realize how easy qualifier-only days are.
With just four skiers in the top-14, the Americans took a solid beating from their hosts. Lars Flora (APUNSC) won the B-Final to finish 7th on the day, ahead of CXC’s Bryan Cook, and APUNSC teammate Reese Hanneman.
“Any day we get good competition from the Americans, it is nice to come out on top,” said Goldsack. But he did not put too much stake on the early season results, pointing out that everyone is on a different training plan, and working toward different goals.
NorAm racing continues on Sunday with a 10/15km individual start freestyle.
All the top racers in the sprint are expected to start, along with James Southam (APUNSC) and Leif Zimmermann (BSF/Madshus).
Topher Sabot is the editor of FasterSkier.