While the SuperTour kicked off two weeks ago, the Canadian domestic series, the Haywood NorAm/Teck Sprints begin this weekend at Sovereign Lake Nordic Center, in Vernon, British Columbia. This year the series opens with a classic sprint, and a 10/15 k freestyle race.
Home to some of the best and most consistent early season skiing in the country, Sovereign Lake is a regular on the Haywood NorAm series. According to National Development Center (NDC) Thunder Bay athlete Michael Somppi, conditions have been getting better all week.
“Sovereign received two decent snow falls over the last two days covering up any gravel bits that were showing through. Before that it was okay, but you had to be careful with race skis,” he said in an email to FasterSkier.
In order to properly acclimatize, NDC Thunder Bay arrived in the area on December 1, and like most teams, are staying at Silver Star Ski Resort, located on the mountain nearby. The races are being held at an altitude of 1660 feet, so some teams have been arriving early in order to properly prepare, while others are just coming up a day or two before.
“It was pretty quiet around Silver Star and Sovereign last week,” Somppi said, “Many teams seem to have chosen a shorter acclimatization period for the races here, but today [Thursday] the race trails were finally a little busier.”
The altitude can also play a big factor in the races, and some athletes really struggle with the transition.
“I find training big hours and racing at Sovereign very difficult due to the altitude,” said Somppi, “so I’m doing my best to keep my energy levels in check.”
With continued collaboration between SuperTour and NorAm organizers, the races will see large fields of both Canadians and Americans.
As to be expected, the Canadian contingent is very strong, featuring skiers from all four development centers (Thunder Bay, Quebec City, Alberta World Cup Academy, Callahan Valley). As well, Canadian National Ski Team (CNST) Development Team members Perianne Jones and Graham Killick are expected to contend for the podium. Olympian Drew Goldsack (AWCA), who won the two SuperTour events in West Yellowstone is also on the start list, and should be considered the man to beat.
Many Americans made the trip up to Sovereign Lake as well to test their form against the best Canada has to offer. Central Cross Country Skiing (CXC), Alaska Pacific University (APU), and the Sun Valley Ski Education Foundation (SVSEF) have either been in the area acclimatizing for the past week, or have arrived in the last few days.
SuperTour leaders Holly Brooks (APU) and Lars Flora (APU) are also registered, which should result in some excellent cross-border competition.
The Canadian season is poised to kick off with over 200 racers registered for the weekend.